The ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza has now claimed more than 500 lives of Palestinian civilians, and still counting. The abduction and killing of three Jewish young boys in the occupied West Bank is condemnable. But, instead of identifying those responsible, Israel used this crime as a pretext for yet another massacre of the Palestinian people.
The fact that the abduction and killing are only a pretext is underlined by the words of Israeli hardliners who in 2012 had referred to the annual massacre of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli state, as “mowing the lawn.” Israeli political leaders have a long history of using such language to dehumanize the Palestinian people and justify occupation and genocide. In 1969, Israeli PM Golda Meir had declared that Palestinians ‘didn’t exist.’ In 1982, Israeli PM Menachem Begin described Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs.” In 1988, another Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir declared that the Palestinians “would be crushed like grasshoppers.”
Even as major world powers maintain a shameful silence on this massacre, the Israeli PM Netanyahu has declared that “world pressure will not stop us…there is still more to go.” The Israeli PM has openly and shamelessly justified deliberate bombardment of homes, hospitals, and other civilian locations. Yet, this blatant admission of war crime has invited no serious action from the United Nations to ensure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, even as the UN reports that the 80% of those killed in Gaza are civilians.
The Indian Government, meanwhile, has maintained a shameful silence and ambiguity over the attack. The Government initially refused to allow a discussion on the issue inside Parliament. When the Rajya Sabha Chairman eventually declared that a discussion would take place, the Government tried to argue that taking an equivocal stance was contrary to Indian interests. The Government rejected calls for Parliament resolution condemning the Israeli offensive.
The silence of the Indian Government on the ongoing genocide is a mockery of India’s long history of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Indian solidarity with Palestine is forged in India’s own experience of anti-colonial freedom struggle. This is why India’s freedom fighters, including Gandhi, unequivocally recognised and resisted the colonial occupation of Palestine. Gandhi famously declared that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs as England belongs to the English or France to the French.” This is the understanding that informed India’s long standing foreign policy approach to Palestine.