New Delhi: The surprise attack on Israel by Hamas and the retaliatory strike on the Gaza Strip stirred the hornet’s nest and has brought the Palestine issue back on focus, former Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar said during a discussion on the issue here.
During the discussion at the Indian Women Press Corps’ on Friday evening, he said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been systematically and ruthlessly moving towards a one-state solution, but that is not an Israel with Jews and Palestinians side by side.
The former envoy, who served in Uzbekistan and Turkey, added that not finding a solution to the Palestine issue is like playing with fire.
Anil Trigunayat, an ex-diplomat who has been India’s envoy to Jordan, Libya and Malta, among others, said when Hamas launched the attack on October 7, the international community supported Israel.
“But the response of Israel, which is considered disproportionate by most observers and countries of the world, has continued. This is something that in my view has taken away a lot of sympathy they had garnered,” he said.
“For the last 15 to 20 years, the Palestinian issue has been on the back burner. Very few countries would talk about it. India has maintained its stand consistently on the Palestine issue. But in the Arab world, things were changing,” Trigunayat said.
On India’s decision to abstain from a UNGA vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza, he said India has faced the impact of terrorism and has maintained its stand against it.
“India has suffered terrorism for the longest period of time. Zero-tolerance against terrorism has been the policy of India. Any act in which a large number of civilians are killed becomes in that sense a terror act,” the former diplomat said.
“India today is looking at a holistic solution to the Palestine issue,” he added.
Bhadrakumar said that things had gone to such a point that there was a sense of great despair.
“For many of us observing the scene, it was not making news. Things that were happening in West Bank settlements, Jerusalem, and Gaza were not in the headlines.
“The move came from the Palestinian side which is being branded as a terror attack from Israel. My reading of the event is that it was a deliberate action to kickstart a process. The stagnant pool needed to be churned very dramatically for the world’s conscience to sit up and take note. That is what was done,” he said.
The retired diplomat added that the second side to what has unfolded since October 7 is that the world had come to believe Israel is an unassailable military power that cannot be challenged.
“Israel’s military superiority was becoming more and more irrelevant because what is taking place is more hybrid wars… As we see, all analysts were wrong on Ukraine. They thought Russia would move in and conquer. So the hybrid war makes all things irrelevant. In the last few weeks we have seen that Israel retains massive capacity to kill, but can it win? It cannot,” he added.
South Asia Bureau Chief of Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) S H Awwad meanwhile said it is painful to see people get killed in Gaza. “You are watching TV and you see how many people are getting killed. It is painful for everyone. Your home, your child, your dream, your love, everything is gone,” he said.
“One milling children are in Gaza and they are allowing this genocide,” Awwad said.
“You have cut water, power, food, you are counting every meal… 400 trucks used to come into Gaza every day from Israel. Out of the 400, they would sit down and calculate how many breads, how many olives they have to give,” he said.
“This is occupied territory, no law in the world says you cannot fight an occupier. Seventy-five per cent of people from Gaza are from the rest of Palestine… Why do people deserve that collective punishment?” Awwad posed.
Israel witnessed a surprise and unprecedented attack by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, in its southern parts on October 7. At least 700 people have been killed and more than 2,100 injured in Israel the deadliest day for the country in at least 50 years. In the retaliatory attack by Israel, thousands of people were killed in Gaza.