It is now a full-fledged war between Palestinian militants and Israel. In the last four days, nearly two thousand have been killed. All indications point to further escalation involving the other militants friendly with Hamas on the one side, and big assistance to the far-right Netanyahu regime by the US and other western nations. So far, no world body including the United Nations has talked of the cessation of the hostilities. Both Hamas and the Israel are determined to fight till the end, it seems.
In the last two years, this is the second big war after the attack on Ukraine by Russia on February 24, 2022. In the last 20 months since Ukraine war, there have been countless meetings and appeals for the end of war, chiefly from the Global South, and discussions have been held at both the UN, and other multilateral forums including the G-20, but so far, no breakthrough has been made. The Russia-Ukraine war continues, costing over 10,000 lives and enormous destruction of properties in both the Ukraine and Russian cities nearing Ukraine border.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is still the head of the G20, and last month claimed the big success of the G20 summit in Delhi, in a tweet on October 7 expressed deep shock by the news of Hamas attacks on Israel. PM said that India stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour and thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. PM certainly can express his shock at the sudden Hamas attack and the death of innocent civilians, but talking of India standing in solidarity with Israel without mentioning anything about the need for the end of the war and not mentioning the Palestine issue at all, indicates a deep shift in India’s position in this continuing Israel-Palestine dispute.
It is significant that so far the external affairs ministry did not issue any official statement, the EAM Dr. S Jaishankar only circulated the PM tweet. It is certain that PM’s position in the tweet has landed the external affairs ministry in a bit of a soup, which will now be forced to explain this contrary stance to most of the countries of the Global South. Apart from the Arab nations, the members of the African Union, whom the Indian Prime Minister gave new membership to G 20 at the September summit, will not be comfortable with the out and out pro-Israeli stand of the PM.
The situation can still be saved if the PM or the EAM issues an elaborate statement on the present West Asian war, correcting some misconceptions which have certainly been aroused among the Global South members. PM will be addressing the virtual G20 meet in November this year – his last assignment as the G20 head. If the present war continues, the Indian PM will have to face many embarrassing questions from the Global South members at this virtual summit. The credibility which the Indian PM earned through his diplomatic success in the Ukraine war issue, has got shattered with this stand on Hamas-Israel war. India’s position is akin to that of G7 nations led by USA and not with the Global South as also Russia and China.
The Congress Party in its statement while expressing its shock at the Hamas attack and the death of the innocent Israeli civilians has also underlined simultaneously the need for a permanent settlement of the Palestine question. The CPI national secretariat in its statement called upon international community, the United Nations and the Government of India to make efforts for the establishment of permanent peace by supporting the two states solution with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
Western nations and the international media have been portraying the Hamas as terrorists and demons, but Hamas is the main Palestinian militant force in the Gaza strip and they have been fighting the Israeli sniper attacks for the last few years, especially since the last election, with Benjamin Netanyahu making his comeback as the Israeli Prime Minister.
Netanyahu heads the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. It is labelled fascist even by some opposition parties in Israel itself, including the Communist Party. Some of its own ministers agree: its Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich describes himself as a “fascist homophobe.” The Israeli PM’s infamous Nation State Law of 2018 formalised the subordinate status of the one-fifth of its citizens who constitute the ‘Israeli Arabs’. This term is used as Israel declines to recognize Palestine as a nation and Palestinians as sovereign people.
This, together with the systemic oppression of Palestinians in their own illegally occupied or besieged lands, has prompted the most prominent liberal human rights organisations in the world, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to agree that Israel is an apartheid state.
Amnesty assessed that the routine “massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians” amounted to a single overarching system of repression “which amounts to apartheid under international law.”Yet not only has Israel operated such a system for years, it is getting worse. Hundreds of Palestinians had been killed in 2023 before Hamas launched its assault on Saturday; the United Nations already deemed it the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.
Netanyahu’s bid to overhaul Israel’s judiciary and give an increasingly far-right Knesset the ability to overrule the Supreme Court will only accelerate the theft and colonisation of Palestinian land. His ultra-racist security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has been promised a new “national guard” to command that will terrorise Palestinian communities: even Benny Gantz, a recent Israeli defence minister and deputy prime minister, warns that this will be a private army and a law unto itself.
As the Israel-Hamas war entered its fourth day, Netanyahu-led Israel is pummelling the Gaza Strip, land and sea-blocked with no escape route, with bombs en masse. Hospitals, schools, high-rise buildings, heritage mosques and even the third oldest church in the world have been razed to dust, taking with them innumerable precious lives. Gazan children and journalists are getting killed by Israel’s blind revenge. Entire families are being wiped out in these genocidal attacks on the civilian population, while possibly also killing the Israeli hostages and prisoners of war in Hamas custody in the process. Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison with over 2 million Palestinians, is a sitting duck. In the light of this, Prime Minister Modi’s post unequivocally siding with Israel is therefore bound to go down in history as a gross error in judgment. How can India project itself as the ‘voice of the Global South’ if it’s so tragically at odds with what the Global South thinks about this protracted conflict that’s the Israel-Palestine issue? (IPA Service)