October 20, 2023
NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke to Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas and conveyed his condolences over the loss of civilian lives in the blast at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday. He also reiterated India’s long-standing position on the Israel-Palestine issue.
”Spoke to the President of the Palestinian Authority H.E. Mahmoud Abbas. Conveyed my condolences at the loss of civilian lives at the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. We will continue to send humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. Shared our deep concern at the terrorism, violence and deteriorating security situation in the region. Reiterated India’s long-standing principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue,” the PM wrote on X later.
Mr Modi yesterday expressed deep shock over the attack and said those involved in the incident should be held responsible.
Earlier today, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India was deeply concerned over the civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and the humanitarian situation in the region and called for the strict observance of the international humanitarian law.
”You would have seen the comments, the tweets as well as statements from the Prime Minister…we have strongly condemned the horrific terrorist attack on Israel. The international community must stand together in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As regards Palestine, we have reiterated our long-standing position of advocating the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel,” he said at a media briefing.
Responding to a question, the spokesperson said India has been supporting Palestine and Palestinian refugees through significant contributions to the UN relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). A total of $29.53 million has been contributed to UNRWA between 2002-2023. The Indian annual contribution to UNRWA was increased from $1.25 million to $5 million in 2018. India has pledged an annual contribution of $5 million for the next two years, he added.
Giving details about ”operation Ajay” to bring back Indians from Israel, he said so far nearly 1200 people have been flown back from the Jewish nation, including 18 Nepalese nationals. ”We are closely monitoring the situation (in the region)… we will plan more flights depending on the demand,” he added.
The spokesperson said there were four Indians in Gaza but the situation was not conducive for an evacuation at the moment. On whether there was any Indian casualty in the conflict, he said there was no report to this effect. One woman was injured and her condition was now stated to be stable.