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Thursday, July 18, 2024

India sends humanitarian aid to Gaza

The second batch of medicine and disaster relief has been handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent

The Indian government announced on Sunday that it had sent the second batch of humanitarian aid to Gaza amid rising civilian casualties, as the war between Israel and Hamas enters day 44.

The death toll resulting from West Jerusalem’s strikes on Gaza since October 7 – when Hamas militants launched an attack on Israeli settlements, killing at least 1,400 people – reached 13,000 on Sunday, including over 5,500 children and 3,500 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The number of people wounded has exceeded 30,000; more than 75% of them are women and children.

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An Indian Air Force C-17, carrying 32 tonnes of aid, departed on Sunday morning for El Arish Airport in Egypt, around 45 kilometers from the Rafah Crossing on Egypt’s border with Gaza – the only point for any humanitarian aid to enter the strip.

Posting on X (formerly Twitter), Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar reaffirmed New Delhi’s commitment to extend humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine.

The first batch of around 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief was sent by New Delhi on October 22. The aid included essential life-saving medicine, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, sanitary utilities, and water purification tablets.

In October, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and conveyed his condolences following a deadly missile strike at Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, which killed over 500 people and injured hundreds. During the call, the prime minister “expressed deep concern at terrorism, violence and deteriorating security situation in the region,” while highlighting the “traditionally close and historic ties” between India and the region, Modi’s office said in a statement.

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India has been walking a diplomatic tightrope over the Israel-Palestine conflict. The prime minister denounced the unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel as “terrorism” – “India stands in solidarity with Israel in this difficult hour,” Modi posted on X shortly after the attack. Later, he condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Since then, however, New Delhi has reiterated that it continues to abide by its “long-standing position” on the need to negotiate a two-state solution to resolve the decades-old conflict. Last week, Modi urged leaders from the Global South to forge a consensus in addressing emerging challenges, particularly those unfolding in the Middle East, emphasizing “the need for dialogue and diplomacy.”