New Delhi: A day after Israeli military took control over Gaza’s largest hospital, India restated its call for upholding international humanitarian law, but refrained from mentioning a ceasefire once again.
In response to a question about New Delhi’s stance on Israeli troops conducting an operation at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza city, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi emphasised that India consistently highlights the importance of adhering to international law.
“The issue is not about one facility or a specific facility. India has always underlined the need for civilian casualties to be avoided, for humanitarian law to be observed, and to encourage any efforts to provide humanitarian relief to those caught in the conflict,” he said.
Israel invaded Gaza more than three weeks ago after Hamas launched a terror attack, killing more than 1400 Israeli citizens and taking about 220 hostages. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
Israel has claimed that Al-Shifa hospital is an “operational centre” for Hamas and that it sits atop a network of tunnels. The New York Times noted that Israel had “yet to present much evidence supporting that claim to the public”.
He added that India has “on the larger issue” talked about “de-escalate the situation” and expressed concern at the increasing civilian toll. “We had also talked about how India had sent 38 tonnes of humanitarian relief materials. We are looking to send more assistance,” he said.
He also reiterated India’s condemnation of attack by Hamas on Israel. “We had also strongly condemned the horrific terrorist attack on October 7 and our zero tolerance for terrorism and the need for immediate and unconditional release of the hostages,” said Bagchi.
India’s initial response to the October 7 attack had been for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express “solidarity with Israel”. It was only a week later that India reiterated that its traditional support for the Palestinian cause after the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital.
India had abstained on the UN general assembly resolution that called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver food, fuel and water supplies to Gaza. New Delhi has, so far, not explicitly supported any call for a ceasefire or a humanitarian pause.