New Delhi: The Indian Parliament on Monday finally took up for debate the ongoing crisis in Gaza, with the opposition parties calling for an immediate resolution to condemn the violence and suspension of military purchases from Israel.
The main opposition Congress party began the discussion on Gaza crisis in Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament), with Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad slamming the Indian government for not taking up the issue last week and urging the House to pass a resolution against Israel as well as Hamas for the use of force.
"We should have been the first nation to discuss Gaza, we are the largest democracy. It is India's job to defend a small nation that is being pressurised.
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense as England belongs to English," Azad said, quoting pre-independence icon Mahatma Gandhi's article which appeared in a pre-Independence publication called The Harijan.
Citing UN figures, Azad said that the death toll had crossed 400 while 60,000 had been rendered homeless as the conflict steadily escalated. "Hospitals have been destroyed. No medication available. 3,500 are injured. Who will help them?" asked Azad.
Questioning if there was a change in the current government's foreign policy towards the Israel-Palestine issue from that of the previous governments, the Congress' Leader of the Opposition urged the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government to rise to the occasion and pass a resolution to condemn Israel's use of force.
Echoing similar sentiments, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury termed the attack as "genocide", and called on the government to immediately suspend all military purchases from Israel. "This is a genocide of sorts, we cannot remain silent to violations of International Law. You are the biggest terrorist by illegally occupying Palestine land. India cannot be a party to this genocide. This must stop," he said.
He added: "India is the only non-Arab country that opposed partition of Palestine. Let Israel vacate all illegally held properties in Palestine. Countries can go to war, but can we ever say we are against an elected government and therefore go to war? The government of Palestine has been elected by the people, we must respect it."
However, addressing the Rajya Sabha, ruling BJP leader Anil Dave said that there ought to be discussion of "global issues of peace."
"What is happening in Israel and Gaza is also happening in various other parts of the world," he said, adding there is need to inform the youth that heavens cannot be attained if one chooses a violent path.
Fighting since Israel launched Operation Protective Shield on July 8 to stamp out rocket fire by Gaza militants has killed more than 500 Palestinians, many of them women and children, and one Israeli.