Japan on Saturday sent a Self-Defense Forces aircraft to its base in Djibouti to prepare for the possibility of airlifting Japanese nationals from Israel, as the Middle Eastern country looks poised for a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip following an attack by Hamas militants last week.

An Air Self-Defense Force KC-767 transport and refueling aircraft left Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture, bound for the East African nation some 2,000 kilometers south of Israel. Two C2 transport planes also departed Miho Air Base in Tottori Prefecture to join the KC-767 for a 420-member-strong task force that will be on standby in Djibouti.

Japan maintains a base in the Horn of Africa nation as part of an ongoing anti-piracy mission.