Condoles Death Of Civilians At Gaza Hospital; Assures Aid For Palestinians
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to convey condolences over the loss of civilian lives in an attack on the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza and assured him that India will continue to send humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians.
During the phone conversation with Abbas, Modi also reiterated India’s long-standing “principled position” on the Israel-Palestine issue but at the same time shared with him New Delhi’s “deep concern” over terrorism, violence and deteriorating security situation in the region.
“Spoke to President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Conveyed my condolences at the loss of civilian lives at the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. We will continue to send humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. Shared our deep concern at the terrorism, violence and deteriorating security situation in the region,” Modi said on ‘X’.
“Reiterated India’s long-standing principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue,” the Prime Minister added.
It was Modi’s first conversation with Abbas since militant group Hamas carried out the unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7.
The call also came two days after an explosion rocked the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza that killed about 500 people, triggering strong international condemnation.
Palestinian authorities blamed Israeli air strikes for the explosion at the hospital while Israel said it was caused by a misfired rocket launched from Gaza by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
At a media briefing External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, replying to a question on the attack on the hospital in Gaza, said India is for strict observance of the international humanitarian law.
Referring to Hamas’s multi-pronged attack on Israeli cities, he said the international community must stand together in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
He said around 1200 Indians and 18 Nepali nationals have come back to India in five flights from Tel Aviv under ‘Operation Ajay’ and that the government was monitoring the situation and decided accordingly on facilitating the return of more people.
“We have strongly condemned the horrific terrorist attack on Israel, and we believe the international community must stand together in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” Bagchi said.
On the Palestine issue, he said India has been in favour of direct negotiations for having a two-state solution.
“As regards Palestine, we have reiterated our long-standing position of advocating the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel,” he said.
“We have also expressed our concern at the civilian casualties due to the ongoing conflict. We also remain concerned about the humanitarian situation,” Bagchi said.
“We would urge the full respect and strict observance of international humanitarian law,” he said, replying to a question on Tuesday’s attack on Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza.
Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday expressed shock at the loss of lives in the attack on the hospital and said those involved in civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict should be held responsible.
“Civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict are a matter of serious and continuing concern. Those involved should be held responsible,” Modi said on X.
To a question on humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people, Bagchi said India has been supporting them.
“India has been supporting Palestine and Palestinian refugees through significant contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). A total of USD 29.53 million has been contributed to UNRWA between 2002 and 2023,” he said.
“The Indian annual contribution to UNRWA was increased from USD 1.25 million to USD 5 million in 2018. India has pledged an annual contribution of USD 5 million for the next two years (FY 2023-24 and FY 2024-25),” Bagchi said.
The latest conflict has been triggered by the unprecedented and multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas militants on October 7. Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive in Gaza to avenge the attacks.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 3,300 people have been killed and over 12,000 wounded in Gaza since the conflict began.
Answering a question, Bagchi said there has been no report of any Indian casualty yet and that an Indian woman, who has sustained injuries, is recovering well.
A caregiver from Kerala had sustained injuries in the attacks by Hamas.
The sudden escalation in hostilities between Israel and Palestine has triggered global concerns. Leading powers like Germany, the US, France and the UK emphasised the importance of preventing the situation from further escalation.
US President Joe Biden has already visited Israel, showing solidarity with the Israeli people. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid a visit to Israel. (Agencies)