RAF Akrotiri
RAF Akrotiri, the UK's air base in Cyprus
Cyprus is an island that sits in the East Mediterranean Sea, about 230 miles from the Gaza Strip. Not unlike Palestine, its territory is disputed by two peoples, the Turkish Cypriots in the north and the Greek Cypriots to the south, where UK and US troops are stationed.

Previously, the UK admitted to sending 1,000 troops to the East Mediterranean to support Israel but did not provide details on where the troops were deployed. But James Heappey, who serves as the minister for the UK's armed forces, confirmed in a letter to a British MP that some 500 troops had been dispatched to Cyprus.

The UK has two military bases in Cyprus that are considered UK soil, Dhekelia in the eastern part of the island and Akrotiri in the west. Royal Air Force (RAF) Akrotiri is the larger of the two and also includes a base used by the US military. RAF Akrotiri has been used by the UK as a staging area for bombing campaigns in the Middle East.

James Heappey Minister for the UK Armed Forces
James Heappey, Minister for the UK Armed Forces (R)
Heappey's letter also reportedly stated that additional troops were sent to Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, but declined to reveal numbers citing "operational security reasons."

The latest deployment increases the number of UK troops stationed in Cyprus to 2,717, with an additional 273 civil servants. An additional 129 US troops are known to be stationed within UK bases in Cyprus but it is unknown if that number has increased in recent months.

A spokesperson for the Cypriot government denied that the country is being used to provide military aid to Israel, an assertion that was backed by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

"There is no such information," Christodoulides told reporters. "Our country cannot be used as a base for war operations."

However, at least 30 RAF military transport flights have flown from RAF Akrotiri to Tel Aviv since the bombing began. In addition, Israeli media reported that at least 40 US Air Force "heavylifter" transport planes landed in RAF Akrotiri, along with a handful of Dutch and German military transports.

The 2,717 British troops now known to be in Cyprus may not be all the UK troops in the country. In October, it was reported by British media that the UK's Special Air Services (SAS), the elite troops of the UK military, were placed on standby in Cyprus, ostensibly to rescue British hostages held by Hamas and other Brits trapped in Gaza.

The day after that report was released, the UK military requested media outlets stop reporting on the SAS in Gaza. The UK government has continued to refuse to confirm or deny the SAS presence in Gaza.

British MP Kenny MacAskill, speaking with UK media, called for transparency in troop deployments in the area.

"We require openness and accountability about what is happening at Britain's bases on Cyprus and the role they are playing in Israel's criminal bombing of Gaza. 500 additional military personnel to Cyprus is a huge deployment given the large contingent already based there. What is their role?" asked MacAskill.

Cyprus has offered to act as a humanitarian aid hub for Gaza after hostilities cease. On Tuesday, Cyprus was one of 153 UN General Assembly members to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. In a previous vote held on October 27, Cyprus was one of 45 countries to abstain from voting for a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce.

In the interim between those two votes, large protests in Cyprus took place in support of a ceasefire and multiple Cypriot MPs criticized the government's stance.