The British spy squad assisting Israel as it bombs Gaza

A leak to the New York Times has shed more light on the secret role Britain is playing in Israel’s assault on Gaza.

11 June 2024
A leaked photo of SAS soldiers on active-duty. It is likely the unit is part of the secret British spy team deployed in Israel. (Photo: Facebook)

A leaked photo of SAS soldiers on active-duty. It is likely the unit is part of the secret British spy team deployed in Israel. (Photo: Facebook)

  • Senior Israeli official says covert British team gives “added value” to its intelligence operations
  • Official adds that Britain is providing intelligence from spy flights that Israel cannot collect on its own
  • UK Ministry of Defence tells Declassified: “We do not comment on speculation on intelligence matters”

A senior Israeli official has said that a British spy team has been deployed to Israel since it began bombing Gaza in October.

The new information came in a New York Times article on Saturday about Israel’s rescue of four hostages during a raid that also killed hundreds of Palestinians.

Israel is currently being investigated for genocide at the World Court while the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister Yoav Gallant. 

British ministers could be legally vulnerable as more information comes to light about their supporting role in Israel’s war on Gaza.

The New York Times article noted that “intelligence collection and analysis teams from the United States and Britain have been in Israel throughout the war”.

It continued that the British personnel were “assisting Israeli intelligence in collecting and analysing information related to the hostages, some of them citizens of both countries”.

The Israeli official said “the outside intelligence” provided by Britain had given them “added value”.

They claimed that “neither the American nor British teams were involved in the planning or execution of the military operations to rescue the hostages”.

Declassified has previously revealed the RAF has flown more than 200 spy missions over Gaza  from Cyprus since December, with at least one landing in Israel.

But this is the first acknowledgment that British intelligence officers have been deployed inside Israel to support its campaign in Gaza. 

The Israeli official added that Britain had “been able to provide intelligence from the air and cyberspace that Israel cannot collect on its own”.


Revealed: UK military has flown 200 spy missions over Gaza...


Special forces 

It is not known what UK agencies the personnel in the British team deployed in Israel belong to, although it is likely to involve the SAS, Britain’s elite special forces unit. 

The Sun reported on 27 October that the SAS, which operates completely outside of democratic oversight, had been deployed to UK bases on Cyprus to – it was claimed – rescue British hostages held captive by Hamas.

The UK military’s “D-Notice” committee, which seeks to stop the media publishing information it claims would damage national security, requested on 28 October that all media editors not publish further information relating to SAS operations in Gaza.

Declassified previously revealed that 36 military transport aircraft have gone from RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus to Tel Aviv. Six were C-17s while 30 were A400M planes. 

The UK military could have transported up to 4,300 personnel in these planes and this is likely to include SAS troops. 

It is also likely that GCHQ and MI6 personnel are involved in the British team stationed in Israel. 


60 British war planes have landed in Israel since Gaza...



Two Israeli intelligence officials told the New York Times that US military officials deployed in Israel provided some of the intelligence for Israel’s attack on Saturday on Nuseirat refugee camp which killed 274 Palestinians, including children. Four hostages held by Hamas were rescued.

It is not known if British personnel provided intelligence for the deadly operation.  

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Declassified: “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on speculation on intelligence matters.”

The Foreign Office – which oversees MI6 – told Declassified it should refer its questions to the MoD. Meanwhile, GCHQ said it would neither confirm nor deny the British team in Israel revealed by the New York Times

Defence secretary Grant Shapps has previously claimed the RAF surveillance flights over Gaza are to help rescue British hostages held by Hamas.

Only one remaining hostage is thought to be a UK national, after another passport holder – Nadav Popplewell – recently died.

Hamas claimed Popplewell was killed by an Israeli airstrike. IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Popplewell was killed “in the area of Khan Younis during our operation there against Hamas”.