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Hamas attack on Israel: What India must do!

Following the Hamas attack on Israel, India's diplomatic role amidst the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict is crucial. Examining Global Implications, Historical Context, and the Path to Sustainable Peace in the Middle East.

By Prof Sudhanshu Tripathi
New Update

Israel Hamas conflict
Israel-Hamas conflict | Representative image | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

The sudden Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli counter-attacks have created an unprecedented situation, not only in and around Gaza but also in the entire West Asian region. This conflict has the potential to escalate and impact many parts of the world, taking on a global catastrophic dimension. The interests of various global and major powers, including the US-led NATO countries and other Western nations, are pitted against those of Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and numerous Muslim states in the region. Additionally, there are concerns about the involvement of terrorist networks such as Hezbollah, the Islamic State, and other similar organisations, as well as groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehreek-e-Insaf, and various terror outfits from Pakistan.

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Why might this happen? To understand this, we need to analyse the current international situation, which is marked by regional conflicts and resulting insecurity and instability worldwide. Recently, the world has experienced numerous instances of turmoil, including interventions, aggressions, and the testing of advanced weapons such as bombs, missiles, nuclear weapons, and guided missiles. Regrettably, these activities persist with unabated intensity today, and international organisations have been unable to effectively curtail the escalating violence and atrocities, particularly against women and children.

The involvement of countries like China, North Korea, Iran, and covert operations by some states like Lebanon, Libya in the Middle East, and Pakistan in South Asia could play a significant role in this context. However, it's important to note that South Korea, Japan, Israel, and the US cannot be absolved of involvement either, as they are actively engaged in similar endeavours, albeit under compulsion due to the aggressive actions of the aforementioned states.

In this complex scenario, the Hamas attack on Israel has clearly unleashed a Pandora's box in the already volatile Middle East region. This region has long been a hotspot, with various regional partner-states engaged in brutal fratricidal conflicts. The Arab-Israeli conflict, one of the most enduring conflicts in the world, revolves around the quest for a homeland for Palestinians, which is also claimed by Israeli Jews as their ancestral homeland. The situation remains highly challenging and fraught with historical tensions.

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The roots of this conflict can be traced back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a period when the region was under British mandate as part of the prevailing Mandate System introduced by the United Nations. This system bore a resemblance to the earlier 'white man's burden' policy from the peak of colonialism. Unfortunately, the mandate administrators, primarily hailing from Anglo-European states, despite outwardly professing allegiance to principles such as freedom, equity, equality, fraternity, and democracy, failed to translate these ideals into tangible reality on the ground.

Instead, they sowed mistrust and employed divide-and-rule tactics among the native communities residing in the region. Their actions were driven by partisan interests, aimed at maintaining smooth governance over unfamiliar and diverse races and nationalities, while also exploiting the abundant natural resources to bolster their economies, social standing, and political power.

These actions inevitably gave rise to deep-seated resentment and bitter animosity among the native population towards the foreign mandate rulers. This, in turn, led to inter-community clashes, involving both rulers and the ruled, including sections of the native population sympathetic to the rulers. These conflicts resulted in brutal violence and the loss of numerous lives among the common people, further fueling tensions and culminating in acts of violence and terrorism throughout the region.

As a result, West Asia witnessed the emergence of terrorism as a tool or weapon utilised to advance the sectarian interests of marginalised sections within both the Muslim and Jewish communities. This phenomenon has persisted almost without interruption, despite three Arab-Israeli Wars that have remained unresolved, as well as the Camp David Accord of 1978, which aimed at establishing peace and security for both warring nationalities.

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Over time, several terrorist groups have emerged to support the Palestinian cause. Among these groups, Hamas has gained prominence as a powerful organisation, especially after the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) led by the late Yasser Arafat. Hamas has garnered one of the largest followings within the Palestinian community. Interestingly, there have been claims that the Israeli government inadvertently contributed to the strengthening and evolution of Hamas as a counter-force to the PLO during the peak of Arafat's leadership.

However, it's important to note that Hamas, classified as a terrorist organisation by several countries, cannot be considered a legitimate pressure group for pursuing the socio-economic and political interests of Palestinian Muslims in the true sense. Therefore, many argue that the Hamas attack on Israel should be effectively countered to prevent their resurgence in any form. It is essential to find a balanced approach that addresses the concerns of the Palestinian population while ensuring regional stability and security.

It is essential to protect innocent residents in Gaza. Israel should adhere to the laws of war, refraining from dropping bombs or missiles on civilian populations and their peaceful areas. Instead of evacuating Gaza, efforts should focus on immediately and fully safeguarding the native population residing there. This includes providing secure areas with access to electricity, water, essential commodities, educational institutions like schools and colleges, and healthcare facilities like hospitals. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), through its peacekeeping operations, should take a unified and urgent approach to lead and coordinate these efforts. All members of the UNSC, including permanent ones, must collaborate to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the war-torn residents of Gaza, acknowledging that they are human beings in distress who deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

As for India, the country should actively engage its diplomacy, considering its role as the founding member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and its substantial influence in many states within the West Asian region. India has cultivated a reputation for peacefulness, compassion, and friendliness with nations worldwide. This positive image is rooted in New Delhi's ancient cultural distinctiveness and rich traditional heritage, which portray the nation as a Vishwa Guru, emphasising values such as ahimsa (non-violence), apramad (humility), vishwa shanti (global peace), vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world as one family), among others.

Therefore, India should step forward in collaboration with like-minded, peace-loving nations such as Australia, Japan, England, and South Korea to facilitate a lasting resolution to the intricate Arab-Israeli conflict, including addressing the recent Hamas attack and the Israeli counter attacks that has killed innocent civilians in both Israel and Palestine. This endeavour holds promise, as human effort knows no bounds.

(Professor Sudhanshu Tripathi holds a position as a Political Science professor at MDPG College, Pratapgarh (UP). He is the author of several published books, including "India’s Foreign Policy: Dilemma over Non-Alignment 2.0" (2020) and "NAM and India" (2012), as well as being a co-author of the textbook "Rajnitik Avadharnayein" (2001). Additionally, he has contributed numerous articles and research papers to national, international, and online journals.)

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