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India’s stand leaves West Asian rivals disappointed

India seems to have pleased neither the Israeli nor the Palestinian side with its stand of ‘equivalence’ over the conflict in Gaza. Speaking to The Hindu, Israel’s acting Ambassador Yahel Vilan said New Delhi should take a more “clear line between the aggressor and the defender in this situation.”

Saleh Fhied Mohammad, the Minister and spokesperson of the Palestine Embassy in New Delhi, said Palestine was disappointed at the comparison the Indian statement had sought to make and wished India had instead called “a spade a spade.”

In its statement of July 10, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had said, “India is deeply concerned at the steep escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, particularly, heavy air strikes in Gaza, resulting in tragic loss of civilian lives and heavy damage to property. At the same time, India is alarmed at the cross-border provocations resulting from rocket attacks against targets in parts of Israel.”

Reacting to the statement, Mr. Vilan said, “This is not the statement we would have hoped for. We believe India and Israel share a common goal in combating terrorists. It should also be remembered that Israel has shown utmost restraint in our reaction to the killing of three young Israelis.”

The violence in Gaza was sparked by the kidnapping of three Jewish seminary students, whose bodies were found in West Bank on June 30. The Israelis blamed Hamas fighters for the killings.

When asked about the disparity and the use of disproportionate force, Mr. Vilan told The Hindu, “I don’t know what ‘proportionate’ force would be. About 80 per cent of Israelis are under threat from rocket attacks and are protected only by the missile dome. We have asked Palestinian civilians to move to shelters, but Hamas wants to use them as human shields, so it doesn’t let them go.” India’s ‘even-handed’ approach is seen as a balancing act between traditional solidarity with the Palestinian cause and close ties with Israel, one of the few countries Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited and built economic relations with as the Gujarat Chief Minister.

Criticising the approach, Mr. Mohammad said, “India has been very friendly to Palestine, but it has been unfortunate that it is trying to compare the launch of air strikes by a nuclear power that has killed so many, to these rocket attacks in which not a single Israeli has died.”

The Israeli embassy in New Delhi has also faced groups of protestors who have marched to its fortified building demanding an end to the air strikes. Mr. Vilan said they were in close touch with the police over security, even as investigations continue into gunshots being fired near an Israeli diplomat’s home.

However, both Israel and Palestine hoped that the Hamas, whose militant arm the Al-Qassam Brigade is responsible for the continuing rocket attacks, will accept the ceasefire proposed by Egypt.

Israel resumed air strikes after a brief ceasefire on Tuesday, as it was rejected by the Hamas, on the ground that Israel was imposing conditions. “We have no interest in continuing the situation,” Mr. Vilan said, “But a ceasefire won’t work until the Hamas loses access to arms and ammunition.”


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 10:55:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-stand-leaves-west-asian-rivals-disappointed/article6214823.ece

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