New Delhi: India sent medical and disaster relief aid for Palestinians on Sunday (October 22).
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi announced on X (formerly Twitter) that an Indian Air Force C-17 flight carrying nearly 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief material departed for the El-Arish airport in Egypt.
“The material includes essential life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, sanitary utilities, [and] water purification tablets among other necessary items,” Bagchi’s post said.
El-Arish airport is roughly 45 kilometres away from the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border with the Gaza strip.
Rafah is currently the only crossing point for humanitarian aid into Gaza.
But the crossing has not been fully operational since the war between Israel and Hamas began.
The BBC cited Egyptian media as saying that Israeli air strikes were causing disruptions near the crossing.
A convoy including 20 aid trucks entered Gaza following the crossing’s opening, Al Jazeera reported.
India supports Palestine and Palestinian refugees through contributions to the UN’s relief and works agency (UNRWA).
It has contributed a total of $36.5 million to the UNRWA between 2002 and 2022-23, the external affairs ministry said in a brief dated May this year.
Bagchi said on behalf of the ministry earlier this month that India has “always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine”.
This includes Palestine “living within secure and recognised borders side by side at peace with Israel”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas last week and “reiterated India’s long-standing and principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue”.
He has also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed solidarity with Israel.
“People of India firmly stand with Israel in this difficult hour. India strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” a post from Modi’s X account said.
Within India, students from Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh Muslim University were booked for taking out a march in support of Palestine without permission, the Indian Express reported.
They were booked under IPC sections related to promoting enmity among different groups, disobedience to orders promulgated by a public servant and statements conducting to public mischief.
Authorities in Kashmir also barred Srinagar residents from offering Friday prayers at the city’s Jamia Masjid due to fears regarding protests over the ongoing war between Israel and Palestine.
An Uttar Pradesh official told the Express that chief minister Adityanath said that “any activity contrary to the views of [the] government of India would not be accepted on this issue [the Israel-Hamas war]”.
Al Jazeera reported that a lot of disinformation on social media targeting Palestinians since the Israel-Hamas war began had come from right-wing accounts based in India.
Starting with a surprise strike on Israel by Hamas – a socio-political and military organisation that rules the Gaza Strip – on October 7, the Israel-Hamas war has so far claimed the lives of 1,400 Israelis and 4,137 Palestinians.
Hamas also captured more than 200 people as hostages after the initial assault. Two of the hostages were released on Friday.
On Sunday (October 22), Israel carried out an air strike in Jenin, saying that Hamas was using a mosque as a “terrorist compound”, the BBC reported.
Jenin is located in the West Bank, which has the other Palestinian territories in the region and is ruled by Hamas’s rival Fatah.