A Palestinian gunman killed eight students inside a prominent Jewish seminary in Jerusalem this past week. Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, the religious school which was targeted, is one of the intellectual points of the Israeli settler movement. The incident happened in West Bank, the area that Israel captured from Palestine in the 1967 war. This happened after Israel invaded the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, which ended in the killings of about 120 Palestinians. Many see this attack as a kind of reprisal; a previously unknown group called “Free Men of Galilee Brigade – Groups of the Martyr Imad Moghniyeh and Martyrs of Gaza” claimed responsibility for the attack. This attack also comes after Imad Mogniyeh, one of the top commanders of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, was assassinated in Damascus, possibly by Israeli forces.
I am not writing this article to draw attention to the number of civilians increasingly being killed by fanatics and zealots. Neither do I want to portray the uselessness of the international system today, that gleefully permits two neighbours to stay in a perpetual state of war and hostility, for the sake of its own vested interests. But what I would certainly like to draw attention to, is the fact that India has maintained a strange silence on the entire issue, only breaking it to condemn the killings of the Israeli students. Our country raised a big hue and cry over the killings in the Jewish seminary, while it remained a mute spectator when Israeli air forces bombed Palestinian refugee camps, in the process killing close to 120 civilians, most of whom were women and children. The international community appeared highly concerned and shocked about the former. UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon also pitched in with his views against the heinous crime. What surprised me was how a tiny country like Libya could have the requisite political will and courage to take a positive stand and speak out in the United Nations Security Council, compelling the permanent members to mention, in the draft resolution, the atrocities inflicted on the Palestinians on the other side. However, India, an economic superpower on the rise and the largest democracy in the world, just cannot seem to take a decisive stand on the issue, that is, condemning Israel for its inhuman treatment of the millions of Palestinian people living in the Gaza Strip and refugee settlement camps. What does this indicate about our country’s leaders and their ideals? It is almost a telling verdict against the ideals we seek to endorse so blatantly and spread so proudly:liberty, freedom, sovereignty, equality, and democracy.
The Indian government condemned the brutal killings of the students in the strongest possible terms. I am not trying to condone the murder of innocent civilians, particularly children. Nothing can justify slaying innocent bystanders in the name of justice or security of the state. But then, this logic should apply to Palestine as well. Nevertheless, theirs is an almost forgotten story. Media coverage seems to be prominently biased against their destitution and plight. Israeli forces attacked the Arabic state, claiming dangers to “national security” as the reason and it was accepted. What Palestinian “terrorist group” Hamas is doing is considered perilous for the existence of the Zionist state. Constant Israeli attacks and the economic blockade imposed on Palestine is a collective punishment being doled out to the millions of Palestinian citizens. It is similar to undermining their very existence. Their survival today depends on food and fuel supplies coming in from their neighbour. The Palestinians are being deprived of their basic rights and essential needs, which is a gross violation of human rights. And yet, the world remains a silent bystander to the potentially explosive situation. Something needs to be done by international organisations and leaders at the top-most level to defuse the alarming situation and bring peace and amity to the troubled region. Or the killings will just keep on increasing in numbers, day by day.
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