India should condemn Israel operations in Gaza; can play important role in region: Iranian Envoy

Iran’s Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi says his country has achieved the main objectives of the April 13 air attack on Israel despite U.S., Israeli claims that it was a ‘failure’

Updated - April 18, 2024 10:01 pm IST

Published - April 18, 2024 08:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Iran’s Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi.

Iran’s Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

India can play an important role in stopping Israel’s operations in Gaza, said Iran’s Ambassador to India Iraj Elahi, adding that Iran would also “welcome” any mediatory role by India to bring peace and stability to the region.

Mr. Elahi said Iran has kept India fully briefed about last week’s air attack on Israel, and said its main objectives, to “deter Israel” and demonstrate the “possible costs of transgressing red lines”, had been achieved. The U.S. White House has described Iran’s attack, sending about 350 drones and missiles on Israeli targets on April 13, a “spectacular and embarrassing failure”, as more than 90% were intercepted by the US, Israel and Jordan.

“This is what Israel and Western countries say. But the reality is something else, and the Israeli regime understood what Iran’s missile capability is. Every operation has its own objective. The main objective of this operation was to deter Israel and to warn them of the dangerous consequences of their reckless deeds,” Mr. Elahi told The Hindu in a written response to a question about the US statement. He said the operations had “proven” that all the “vital military bases” of the Israeli Defence Forces would be “easily accessible” if Iran decided to use “more developed weapons”.

Iran has said its attacks were a “legitimate” response to Israel’s bombing of the Iranian Embassy building in Damascus on April 1 that killed seven military advisors including a senior Iranian general, which Mr. Elahi said was a violation of the Vienna Convention and other conventions on the protection for diplomats. The Ministry of External Affairs’ response to both Israel’s attack and Iran’s counterattack has been seen as neutral, with no direct condemnation of either country but expressing serious concerns about the escalation of tensions in the region.

“I cannot speak for the Indian government. Each country has its own position in such situations. But what is certain is that attacking diplomatic places is prohibited according to international conventions,” Mr. Elahi said. He said India should condemn Israeli operations in Gaza in retaliation for the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas, that left more than 1,200 Israelis dead, and dozens taken hostage. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli operations since then, mostly women and children.

“We believe that India can play a very important role in stopping” Israel operations in Gaza, Mr. Elahi said, adding that “the Indian government can play an active role in condemning these actions of Israel.” When asked whether India could play mediator in the region given its strong strategic ties with both Iran and Israel, the Iranian Ambassador said his government would “welcome any action to reduce tension and establish peace and stability in the region”.

Israel’s Ambassador Naor Gilon has said Iran’s attacks “cannot go unanswered”. “We have to make it clear to Iran that these are unacceptable, and our capabilities to retaliate are reasonable,” he told various news channels this week.

The Iranian Ambassador also said bilateral cooperation with India over the Chabahar port project, where India operates a terminal, is “going well”, and promised that there would be “good news in this regard in the coming days”. When asked about India’s 2018 decision to cancel import of Iranian oil due to U.S. sanctions, Mr. Elahi said that as an oil exporter, Iran was ready to sell to any country. “If there is a request from the Indian government to buy oil, Iran will definitely welcome it,” he added.

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