Civil society challenges India’s ties with Israel, warns of war crimes complicity

Civil society challenges India’s ties with Israel, warns of war crimes complicity
Indian intellectuals and activists hold a public meeting for solidarity in Gaza at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, Feb. 24, 2024. (X/@kavita_krishnan)
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Updated 24 February 2024
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Civil society challenges India’s ties with Israel, warns of war crimes complicity

Civil society challenges India’s ties with Israel, warns of war crimes complicity
  • Top intellectuals demand that New Delhi ceases facilitating Israeli military activity
  • Activists renew calls for action to oppose the world’s ‘last colonial project’

NEW DELHI: Members of Indian civil society have come together to break their government’s silence on Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians and put pressure on it to refrain from any kind of complicity with Tel Aviv.

Despite India’s historic support for Palestine, New Delhi has been mostly quiet in the wake of Israel’s deadly siege and onslaught on Gaza, which since October has killed nearly 30,000 people, wounded some 70,000, and left most of the enclave’s population starving and with no access to medical, food and water supplies.

When Indians went to the streets in the past months to protest and raise awareness on the atrocities unfolding in Gaza, their demonstrations were dispersed by police and campaigns stifled.

At the same time, New Delhi signed an agreement to send tens of thousands of workers to Israel to replace their Palestinian counterparts. It has also been supplying Israeli forces with weapons, despite an International Court of Justice ruling which said it was plausible that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

Grouped as Indians for Palestine, India’s top public intellectuals, politicians, lawyers, artists and diplomats launched a new movement on Friday to challenge the government’s links with Tel Aviv and demand that it follow the ICJ ruling that imposes a moral and legal obligation on signatories of the UN Genocide Convention, including India, to cease funding or facilitating Israel’s military activity.

“This is a group of concerned citizens who, like so many other people, have been greatly disturbed by the genocide that is taking place in Gaza,” Achin Vinaik, retired professor of international relations and global politics from the University of Delhi, told Arab News at the “International Court and Justice” public meeting at the Constitution Club of India on Friday.

“The Palestine issue is so clear-cut. The difference between victimizers and victims is so clear-cut that it is actually a litmus test for one’s basic humanity,” he said.

“If you are any kind of a decent human being, you will be appalled by what is happening to the Palestinian people. Israel is a settler colonial apartheid state.”

The meeting produced a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urging the Indian government to “publicly endorse the latest ruling of the ICJ, stand against all violations of the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza and refrain from any sort of complicity with Israel.”

The resolution also called on people across Asia to demonstrate collective solidarity with the people of Palestine — in spirit, resources, speech, and action.

“I think it’s so important that everyone gets involved in whatever way that they can because the Palestinian people really need solidarity from the entire global community and whoever is able to support them and whatever way they can,” Sanya Khera, a student in Delhi who joined the platform, told Arab News.

“I think it’s so important that people gather in public forums like this and come together and have these discussions because you are not seeing it that much on the news, you are not seeing it in your newspapers.”

For Aban Raza, artist and activist, Friday’s meeting marked the emergence of a new platform to take action.

“Hopefully, very soon we can come on the streets and protest against it, like we used to,” she said.

“Silence is no longer an option and the most important thing that needs to be done is to speak up for the Palestinians, speak up wherever there is injustice happening, and the most grave injustice right now is happening in Palestine.”

The hundreds of people who showed up at the Constitution Club of India venue were given the space to speak.

“We had a wonderful meeting of over 500 people who came and participated and clapped and showed their solidarity with the people of Gaza ... It tells ordinary people that their voices also count. For so long, even to speak about this was so difficult,” said Pamela Philipose, senior fellow at the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

“One person told me, and I think she put it so well ... She said: ‘We didn’t even have a chance to mourn for the people who died in Gaza, and this gave us the chance to actually mourn for them’.”

The importance of Indians speaking up against their government’s policy was also seen as a historic duty given India’s own colonial past.

“This is the last colonial project which exists on the Earth. And this colonial project, where Israel has been imposed on the land of Palestine, has to end. India even in its anti-colonial struggle days was for the rights of Palestine, so we have to continue with this legacy, also to justify our existence,” Apoorvanand Jha, public intellectual and professor at the University of Delhi, told Arab News.

“As we have seen in other countries as well — in the United States of America or in the United Kingdom, France, Germany — people have come out on the streets against their own governments. That’s what we are doing ... We belong to one humanity and that’s why it’s our duty to stand against our governments for the people of Palestine.”


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 23 sec ago
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 18 min 16 sec ago
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
  • Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term, something he and Kyiv’s allies deem the right decision in wartime. Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.