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Hamas Launches Unprecedented Attack on Israel, India’s Policy towards Israel-Palestine Under Scrutiny

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

October 10, 2023: In a surprising turn of events, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a major attack on Israel during the early hours of Saturday, October 7. This assault, described as ‘unprecedented,’ involved the firing of hundreds of rockets into Israel. The aftermath of this Gaza offensive witnessed dozens of armed fighters from Hamas entering southern Israel, although Israel has since announced regaining control of most of the affected area.

Tragically, this attack has resulted in the loss of 700 civilian lives in Israel, along with several Israelis being reported as hostages. The retaliatory Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip has caused over 400 casualties and more than 2,000 injuries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a state of ‘war,’ vowing that the attackers will pay an ‘unprecedented price.’

World leaders have united in condemning this attack by Hamas. While India’s Ministry of External Affairs has not yet issued an official statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally labeled it a ‘terrorist’ attack and expressed support for Israel during this challenging period.

Simultaneously, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shared a video on its social media platform, reminiscing about India’s experiences with terrorism from 2004 to 2014 during the UPA government’s tenure. This video includes footage of past terrorist attacks in India.

This incident has reignited discussions about India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue. The possibility of a change in India’s policy is being actively debated.

The international diplomatic goal remains a ‘two-state’ solution to resolve the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine, a position favored by India. Recognition of Palestine as an independent state, with borders based on pre-1967 ceasefire lines encompassing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, is also under consideration.

Earlier this year, the United Nations General Assembly deliberated on a resolution concerning Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. The resolution sought the International Court of Justice’s opinion on Israel’s “long-term occupation” and its legal consequences.

While the US and Israel voted against the resolution, India, along with Brazil, Japan, Myanmar, and France, abstained from the vote. Despite these developments, experts assert that India’s policy towards Palestine is evolving towards maintaining independent relations with both Israel and Palestine.

Analysts suggest that the Palestinian issue is losing strength for India due to several factors. One key reason is the internal divisions within Palestine and the crises in neighboring countries, which have shifted their priorities away from the Palestinian cause. Additionally, changes in global politics and the United States’ unwavering support for Israel have influenced India’s position.

Despite these changes, India has a historical tradition of supporting Palestinian rights. India recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Yasser Arafat as the sole representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was among the first non-Arab countries to recognize the Palestinian state in 1988.

Over the years, India has provided political support at international and bilateral levels and extended financial assistance to Palestinians. India also opened representative offices in Gaza and Ramallah and supported various projects in Palestine.

While India’s policy may appear to be shifting, experts emphasize that it remains committed to supporting Palestine’s interests when human rights are at stake while simultaneously pursuing its interests with Israel. This balanced approach underscores India’s pragmatic foreign policy strategy.

As the situation in the Middle East continues to evolve, India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue remains an important topic of discussion, with experts highlighting the ongoing importance of a balanced and principled foreign policy.

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