New Delhi, November 21
At a BRICS meeting convened to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict, India on Tuesday said the immediate crisis was triggered by a terrorist attack and none should compromise where terrorism is concerned, even as it called for addressing concerns of Palestinians and stressed the two-state solution.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who addressed the virtual meeting on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also pointed out that in response to the crisis in Gaza, India has sent 70 tonnes of humanitarian assistance and will continue its relief assistance.
"The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza is causing immense human suffering, including to civilians, elderly, women and children. We welcome all efforts of the international community towards de-escalation. Right now there is an urgent need to ensure that humanitarian aid and relief, effectively and safely reach the population of Gaza," Jaishankar said at the meeting hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, among others.
"It is also imperative that all hostages are released. We believe that there is a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law. We are all aware that the immediate crisis was triggered by the terrorist attack of October 7. Where terrorism itself is concerned, none of us should or can compromise with it. Hostage-taking is equally unacceptable and cannot be condoned," Jaishankar said.
He noted that subsequent developments have deepened concerns even more with large scale civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis being witnessed.
"We strongly condemn any death of civilians. Along with the need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support, India also emphasises the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy," the external affairs minister said.
Pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to several leaders in the region and across the world in this context, Jaishankar said the PM has highlighted the need to create conditions for peace and restart direct and meaningful peace negotiations.
"We believe that the concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner. This can only happen with a two-state solution that is based on peaceful coexistence," he said.
India has been consistently supportive of international efforts towards this end, he added.
"Over the years, India has supported the socio-economic welfare of the Palestinian people and strengthening of their national institutions. Our development partnership is geared towards these objectives. We continue to provide assistance both bilaterally and through the UN," Jaishankar said.
India's economic assistance to Palestine, development projects there and financial support to the Palestinian Authority reflect that position, he said.
"India remains supportive of the UN relief and welfare agency's role and have been contributing USD 5 million annually. In response to the crisis in Gaza, India has also sent 70 tonnes of humanitarian assistance, including 16.5 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies. We thank Egypt for facilitating this delivery. Our relief assistance will continue," Jaishankar asserted.
The international community is today facing a very complex situation that has many dimensions, he said.
"We have to address them all and yet have to prioritise. Our endeavour should be to both make a difference on the ground immediately while also creating conditions for lasting solutions," Jaishankar said.
He also lauded South Africa for the initiative to convene the BRICS and also include those who would be part of the group in due course.
Israel has been carrying out a massive military operation in Gaza following the unprecedented and multi-pronged attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas militants on October 7. Hamas killed around 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 220 others. Around 11,500 people have been killed in Gaza in the Israeli offensive, according to the Hamas-run authorities in Gaza.
There has been mounting criticism of Israel for the death of a large number of civilians, including women and children, in Gaza in its military operations.
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