British troops could be sent to Gaza to help US deliver aid

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

British boots could be put on the ground in Gaza as part of international efforts to deliver vital aid to the war-torn enclave by sea.

The UK Government is considering deploying troops to land humanitarian supplies from a temporary pier currently being built by the US military, the BBC reported on Saturday, citing unnamed Whitehall sources.

This could involve driving trucks carrying aid from landing vessels via a causeway to the shore, where it would be deposited and picked up by aid agencies.

The UK continues to take a leading role in the delivery of support

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps

It comes after the US said no American forces would go ashore, and personnel from another country would drive the delivery trucks from the pier.

It is understood that nothing has been decided and the proposal has not yet reached Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) declined to comment.

Such a role could put British forces at a higher risk of attack from Hamas.

An official from the militant group told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Hamas will resist any foreign military presence involved with the port project.

On the same day, United Nations officials were forced to take shelter when the under-construction pier came under fire.

The UK is already involved in the preparations for the US-led operation, with Royal Navy ship RFA Cardigan Bay to provide floating accommodation for hundreds of American sailors and soldiers constructing the pier.

British military planning teams have also been embedded at the US operational headquarters in Florida and Cyprus for several weeks, the MoD said on Friday.

Construction of the temporary pier and causeway at sea has begun, after President Joe Biden announced the project in March with the aim of expanding the flow of life-saving humanitarian assistance into Gaza from early May.

Aid pre-screened in Cyprus will be shipped to the Palestinian territory via the multi-national maritime corridor initiative.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday said: “It is critical we establish more routes for vital humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza and the UK continues to take a leading role in the delivery of support in coordination with the US and our international allies and partners.

“The crew of RFA Cardigan Bay are central to the UK’s contribution to the multi-national plan to greatly expand the flow of aid into Gaza.

“This will complement the priority of getting more aid in via land routes and Ashdod port in Israel, by enabling tens of thousands of tonnes to be delivered directly from the sea onto the beach.”

Israel has been the subject of international criticism for failing to let enough aid across its land borders, though it has promised to open more crossings, including its port in Ashdod to process aid shipments bound for Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw another 250 being taken hostage.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,300 people, according to the local health ministry, and swathes of the population are on the brink of starvation.