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India’s humanitarian diplomacy: Navigating Israel-Gaza quandary with pragmatism

Opinion

India's humanitarian diplomacy: Navigating Israel-Gaza quandary with pragmatism

In a world marred by divisive narratives, India's resolute stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict emerges not only as a diplomatic strategy but a testament to its commitment to humanity

Varun Sharma November 13, 2023 16:56:42 IST India's humanitarian diplomacy: Navigating Israel-Gaza quandary with pragmatism

Israeli soldiers take position, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip as seen in a handout picture released by the Israel Defense Forces on 13 November, 2023. Reuters

On 7 October, India woke up to the news of thousands of Hamas terrorists crossing the border, bursting into southern Israel, slaughtering about 1,400 people in their homes, on the street and at an outdoor music festival in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Israel’s history.

At least 247 people, mostly civilians, were taken hostage, including young children, women and the elderly. Social media was filled with images of the mutilated body of 30-year-old Shani Louk being paraded on the streets of Gaza, with wounds inflicted on her body and men, including young boys, spitting on her body. Along with Shani Louk, it is reported that many women have suffered the same or worst brutalities like gang rape.

Along with women, the world witnessed the bodies of mutilated babies and kids. You can be on any side of the conflict; these images and videos will haunt anyone who has a drop of humanity and empathy.

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Following this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the events in the strongest words, justifying India’s policy of no-nonsense to terrorism. This was followed by External Minister S Jaishankar, using phrases like ‘big act of Terrorism’, ‘If there is an issue of terrorism, and we all find terrorism unacceptable, we must stand up’. Further, he reiterated India’s position on Palestine — a two-state solution. This is India’s pragmatic shift in the foreign policy where Yasir Arafat, who was mastermind of Munich tragedy was given the state honour by Indira Gandhi.

Let us now analyze why the two-State solution is beneficial for India; a lot of Indians, especially the non-left Twitter, has criticised this position. India has a very positive balance of trade with Palestine, and India has extremely good relations with West Asia post-2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally invested a lot, which was a passover by the previous regimes. Traditionally, West Asia has been a supporter of Pakistan and has echoed Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and India’s internal matters. Imagine a situation where till the 1990s we even did not recognise the state of Israel and we were getting no help from West Asia when it came to our position.

Thanks to Pakistan’s confused dispensation and their eagerness to fight foreign battles – be it ideologically or physically, it made them isolated and irked every possible country in West Asia, be it the Saudis or the UAE. India negotiated a deal with Iran to buy petrol in Rupees to many trade deals with Saudis and UAE.

Prime Minister Modi was crowned with the highest civilian honor by the UAE government, which was a very rare achievement.

Post 7 October, Israel took a firm stance to avenge 7 October, and we saw the global left, Islamists and radicals cutting across different ideologies coming along to isolate Israel and condemning the Jews – some even called for their annihilation and what’s sad is that it was being promoted in western capitals in the name of free speech. India did not allow this kind of hate being promoted. Similar slogans were being used in the states of UP and Telangana where the police took immediate action. We have to understand Hindus and Jews have a commonality – both have a concept of Homeland, Motherland, and Matrubhumi.

While other religions consider any land conquest is theirs. Both worship their motherland. For instance, in our national anthem – Sind is being used. Geographically, Sind is not part of India and is in Pakistan, but we worship the land, therefore we use it.

After Israel’s counteroffensive, a popular narrative has been a ceasefire and it is the right approach. However, we are in a position where Hamas terrorists have hostages, including the babies, women and the elderly which were captured by them on 7 October. Also, the Hamas leadership is very much in Gaza and those who perpetrated the attack are still being lauded in Gaza. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has lauded the barbarism of 7 October.

Ceasefire is in India’s best interest as well. The world cannot afford war and sectarian conflicts and it needs a resolution. The Indian dispensation, including the prime minister, took it to Twitter when the hospital in Gaza was bombed and mourned for the deaths and destruction. India has also pledged humanitarian aid.

In a world marred by divisive narratives, India’s resolute stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict emerges not only as a diplomatic strategy but a testament to its commitment to humanity. The call for a two-state solution, despite criticism, reflects India’s nuanced approach, considering historical ties, economic interests, and a shared ethos with both Israelis and Palestinians. As the global community grapples with complex geopolitics, India’s emphasis on a ceasefire and provision of humanitarian aid underscores the need for collective efforts to restore peace and compassion in the face of adversity.

The author is a columnist specialising in Khalistani terrorism and external threat mappings for India. He posts on X at @DwellingDeep_. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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