Israel-Palestinian conflict escalates; India condemns rocket attacks from Gaza

at 7:03 pm

New Delhi (NVI) Even as the world is busy combating the unprecedented challenge posed by coronavirus, sirens continuously blare in various cities of Israel, including capital Tel Aviv, and civilians run for cover as rockets pour in from Gaza.

Amidst the incoming rockets, Israeli fighter planes take off and carry out strikes in Gaza, at locations, it says, are the dens of Hamas “terrorist group” and used to launch attacks.

The escalating two-way bombardment has been triggered by a violent clash between Israeli security forces and protesters at Al Aqsa mosque in Gaza on May 7. The clash reportedly took place over clearance of an encroachment near the mosque, with the Palestinian protesters resorting to violence after Friday prayers.

Over the last few days, Palestinians, especially Hamas, have been targeting Israeli cities with a barrage of rockets and Israel has been carrying out airstrikes at suspected Hamas positions in Gaza.

Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at various cities of Israel, including capital Tel Aviv, in which several civilians have been killed. An Indian woman is among those killed in the rocket attacks.

As the Israeli cities continue to face bombardments from Gaza, Israel is carrying out air strikes at locations, including multi-storeyed buildings, which, it says, host Hamas offices or are being used to launch rockets.

Scores of people, mostly civilians, have died on both sides and the fighting is only escalating, leading to international concerns.

Ignoring protests over the killing of civilians in air strikes in Gaza and criticism by some countries over it, Israel has made it clear that it will continue its military campaign as it has the right to defend its nationals.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said the civilians, including children, may be getting killed because Hamas uses them as a shield. The IDF said it has been warning civilians to keep away from installations hosting Hamas before carrying out attacks.

“Hamas is using children as human shields. Hamas has been using a school—in close proximity to civilian buildings including a hospital—to hide a terror tunnel. We neutralized the terror tunnel so that Hamas can no longer hide behind innocent children,” IDF said in one if tweets.

US President Joe Biden has backed Israeli action, saying it has the “right to defend itself”. However, he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed hope that violence will end sooner than later.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) last night held a close-door meeting to discuss the volatile situation and called for immediate de-escalation.

At the meeting, India’s Ambassador to the United Nations T S Tirumurti said India condemns “all acts of violence, especially rocket attacks from Gaza”.

He also called for immediate de-escalation of the situation.

Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, has said Israel must be taught a “lesson” and is trying to rope in Russia in this process.

Erdogan made a telephonic call to Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the international community should “give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson”.

Erdogan suggested to Putin that an international protection force should be considered to shield the Palestinians.

Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate said in a statement said Erdogan urged the UN Security Council to rapidly intervene with “determined and clear messages” to Israel.

Russia, while expressing concern over the continuing clashes and casualties, said its President Vladimir Putin “called on the parties to de-escalate tensions and peacefully resolve the emerging issues”.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin called on Israel to “immediately” stop all settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, RIA news agency reported.

He underscored the need for respecting the “status quo of Jerusalem’s sacred sites”, RIA reported.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on both Israel and Palestinians to “show restraint” and “step back from the brink”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said her government “condemns these incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities in the strongest terms”.

Asserting that these rocket attacks “could not be justified”, he said, “Israel has the right to self-defence against these attacks.”

Both Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens had been killed in the barrage of rockets in recent days by Hamas and “allied extremist groups”, he said, adding, “Their goal is to arbitrarily and indiscriminately kill people.”

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Israeli actions and reiterated support for Palestinians.

The grouping of Islamic countries said it “condemns in the strongest terms the repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people.”