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Civilian deaths in Israel-Hamas war concerning: India at UNSC

By Yoshita Singh
October 25, 2023 10:42 IST
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India has voiced deep concern over the deteriorating security situation and large-scale loss of civilian life in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, urging the parties to work towards creating conditions necessary for peace and restarting direct negotiations through de-escalation and ending violence.

IMAGE: Palestinians carry a child casualty at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 24, 2023. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The remarks by India's Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador R Ravindra, came on Tuesday at the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

"India is deeply concerned at the deteriorating security situation and large-scale loss of civilian lives in the ongoing conflict. The mounting humanitarian crisis is equally alarming," Ravindra said.


He said the escalation of hostilities in the region has only exacerbated the dire humanitarian situation and has once again underscored the fragile nature of the ceasefire.

"Civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict are a matter of serious and continuing concern. All parties must protect civilians, especially women and children. The unfolding humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed," Ravindra said.

India urged the parties to work towards creating conditions necessary for peace and for restarting direct negotiations including through de-escalation and eschewing violence.

"Current escalation has once again underscored the need for immediate resumption of credible, direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Every effort must be made to create conducive conditions for the resumption of these talks," he said.

Ravindra said India has always supported a negotiated two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side in peace with Israel, taking into account the legitimate security concerns of Israel.

"Towards this, we reiterate the need for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations," he said.

Welcoming all efforts of regional and global players aimed towards restoring normalcy, Ravindra reaffirmed India's firm commitment to achieving a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine issue.

The UNSC ministerial meeting, held under the Brazilian Presidency of the Council, was addressed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen, Palestine's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad Al-Maliki and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the Council that since the October 7 attack, Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups killed over 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals the bloodiest attack in Israel's history.

This includes over 1,000 civilians, many of them women and children, and over 360 security forces personnel. Over 5,400 Israelis were injured.

Wennesland said the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza has reported over 5,000 Palestinians killed so far, including over 1,100 women, 2,000 children as well as journalists, medical workers and first responders, with more than 15,000 injured.

Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Lynn Hastings said that according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, more than 1,500 people have also been reported missing and are presumed to be under the rubble.

"The number of those who are internally displaced has swelled to 1.4 million. Nearly 600,000 people are sheltering in UNWRA facilities in increasingly dire conditions," Hastings said.

India termed the October 7 terror attacks in Israel as 'shocking' and condemned them unequivocally.

Ravindra noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first global leaders to have conveyed his condolences for the loss of lives and prayers for the innocent victims and their families.

"We stood in solidarity with Israel at their moment of crisis when they were facing these terror attacks," Ravindra said.

Modi, in a post on X, had said, 'Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.'

India has also expressed 'deep shock' at the tragic loss of lives at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza last week, where several hundreds of civilian casualties have occurred and thousands injured.

Ravindra said Prime Minister Modi has clearly spelt out that those involved must be held responsible.

India welcomed the efforts of the international community for de-escalation and delivery of humanitarian goods to the people of Gaza.

India has sent 38 tons of humanitarian goods, including medicines and equipment to the people of Palestine, Ravindra said.

Over the weekend, a convoy of the Egyptian Red Crescent entered Gaza with humanitarian supplies, the first since the conflict began following attacks by Hamas on Israel on October 7.

Hastings said this has provided a glimmer of hope to people living in appalling conditions.

"This past weekend, 34 trucks entered Gaza with life-saving supplies, and another 20 trucks crossed Rafah into Gaza yesterday. Twenty more are due to cross today although they are currently delayed. We welcome this important development, and we pledge to do our part to ensure these deliveries continue," Hastings said.

Ravindra added that India also continues to support the Palestinian people through its bilateral development partnership, which covers a wide range of sectors including health, education, women's empowerment, entrepreneurship and information technology.

India is also supporting grassroot Palestinian institutions in their developmental initiatives and has supported UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) over decades for its humanitarian services.

"In these challenging times, India will continue to send humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine," Ravindra said.

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Yoshita Singh
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