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Gaza Conflict Causing Immense Human Suffering, Strongly Condemn Civilian Deaths: EAM Jaishankar At BRICS Meet

Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said the only way the concerns of Palestinians can be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner is through the realisation of the two-State solution based on peaceful co-existence.

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
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Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar (outlookindia.com) on Tuesday said that there is "immense human suffering" in the Gaza Strip and that India strongly condemns the deaths of civilians in the conflict. 

Speaking at the BRICS Extraordinary Meeting on Israel's war on Gaza called by BRICS Chair South Africa, Jaishankar reiterated the Indian support for the resolution of the crises through dialogue and diplomacy instead of fighting. It was a leader-level summit and Jaishankar was representing Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the meeting. The attendees included Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Jaishankar pressed for the "urgent need" to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and called for "restraint and immediate humanitarian support" in the region.

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"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...Along with the need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support, India also emphasizes peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy," said Jaishankar, according to a readout by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Jaishankar also condemned the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that triggered the ongoing war. Without naming Hamas, he said that "none of us should or can compromise with" terrorism and called for the release of hostages. In its attack in which it killed at least 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, Hamas also abducted at least 240 Israelis and foreigners and took them to Gaza as hostages. 

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"It is also imperative that all hostages are released. We believe that there is a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law...Hostage-taking is equally unacceptable and cannot be condoned. Subsequent developments have deepened our concern even more as we witness large-scale civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis. We strongly condemn any death of civilians," said Jaishankar.

Jaishankar reiterated India's long-standing support for Palestinians and said that the only way the concerns of Palestinians can be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner is through the realisation of a two-state solution based on peaceful co-existence

The two-state solution is the idea of the co-existence of a Jewish State of Israel and an Arab State of Palestine in the conflict-torn region. India, the United States, Israel, and much of the international community agree to it, but it has not materialised for a variety of reasons. It is also in line with the United Nations (UN) plan for the partition of the region in 1947 that gave around 56 per cent of the land —half of which was the Negev desert— to Israel and the rest to the Arabs in 1947. While the Jews accepted the proposal, the Arabs rejected it and the six Arab states of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Transjordan (present-day Jordan) declared war on Israel. The Arabs lost the war and Israel was in control of around 77 per cent of the region by the end of the war.

"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 co-existence. We have been consistently supportive of international efforts towards this end," said Jaishankar. 

Jaishankar also highlighted the longstanding Indian support to the Palestinians through developmental and humanitarian assistance both bilaterally via the Palestinian Authority (PA), the de facto government of the Palestinians in the West Bank and through international mechanisms like the UN agency for Palestinians. He also noted that India has sent multiple tranches of aid to Gaza and such shipments would continue. 

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"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. Our economic assistance to Palestine, developmental projects there and financial support to the Palestinian Authority reflect our position. India remains supportive of the UN Relief and Welfare Agency's (UNRWA) role and has been contributing $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," said Jaishankar. 

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Jaishankar's public remarks at the BRICS meeting were in line with the longstanding Indian position of supporting the Palestinian cause, including support for the two-nation solution, and condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations anywhere in the world. 

Following the attack by Hamas, Israel declared war on Gaza and began a bombardment campaign. It also launched a ground operation late last month. While the stated targets of the Israeli attacks are Hamas leaders and facilities, widespread civilian casualties have also taken place. Gazan authorities say over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, most of them women and children. Around 1.5 million Palestinians have also been internally displaced and estimates suggest up to a third of all houses have been destroyed or damaged in the attacks. As aid is nowhere close to the envisioned levels, the region is short of food, fuel, medicines, and other essentials, and is at risk of widespread disease outbreaks. The humanitarian crises in the Palestinian enclave have led to widespread calls for a ceasefire across the world. 

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So far, Israel has constantly rejected calls for a ceasefire and has declared the release of hostages by Hamas as a prerequisite for any ceasefire. Israel has maintained that any unconditional ceasefire would only give Hamas time to regroup and rearm against Israel. However, Israel has maintained temporary humanitarian pauses in the attacks on Gaza. 

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