Israel-Hamas conflict: India calls for immediate hostage release and move towards 2-state solution

As Israel keeps hitting back hard every day in the conflict started by the October 7 rocket attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, international concern has been focused on how to save civilians in Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. India has called for an “immediate and unconditional” release of the people taken hostage by Hamas, without naming the group, and has also urged the warring parties to move towards conflict de-escalation and the two-state solution.

Gaza civilians being given an escape corridor by the Israeli forces. Screenshot courtesy: X/@IDF

This evening, the Israel Defense Forces posted a video on the social network X, showing a stream of Gaza people walking fast. Though there have been calls for a ceasefire, the IDF clarified: “There is no ceasefire. There are tactical, local pauses for humanitarian aid for Gazan civilians.”

Meanwhile, at his weekly media briefing in Delhi, Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India had made its position clear on the Hamas-Israel conflict on multiple occasions, including during the UN General Assembly debate on October 27.

“We have strongly condemned the horrific attack on Israel, urged the need for zero tolerance for terrorism, and called for immediate and unconditional release of hostages,” he said. “We have also conveyed our deep concern at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the increasing civilian toll and welcomed efforts to de-escalate the situation and provide humanitarian assistance.”

Bagchi said that India had also sent 38 tonnes of humanitarian relief material and emphasised upon the need for strict “observance of international humanitarian law”. The relief materials were sent to the people of Gaza.

“We have also urged the parties to de-escalate, eschew violence, and work towards creating conditions for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations towards a two-state solution. That captures all aspects of how we look at the very difficult situation there,” he said.

Israel has been carrying out a massive military offensive in Gaza following the unprecedented and multi-pronged attacks on Israeli cities by Hamas militants on October 7. Hamas killed around 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 220. The militant group fired 3,000 rockets or more out of the blue at cities in southern Israel and infiltrated Israeli communities.

The retaliation by Israel came swiftly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the nation that Israel was “at war” following the terrorist attacks by Hamas. Since then, Israeli air strikes have pulverised Gaza, though escape corridors have been provided for civilians.

Around 10,500 people have been killed in Gaza in the Israeli offensive, according to the Hamas-run authorities in Gaza. Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire without the release of all the hostages.

According to Agence France-Presse, the Israeli leader said, “I’d like to put to rest all kinds of false rumours we’re hearing from all kinds of directions, and reiterate one clear thing: there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, following escalation of the conflict.

Asked about reports that the Israeli construction industry was looking at recruiting 100,000 Indian workers to replace the 90,000 Palestinians, the MEA spokesperson said that he was not aware of any such requests from Tel Aviv. “I am not sure of any specific conversations or requests. I saw some reports of 100,000 workers replacing other workers there. I have not heard any of those things,” Bagchi said.

—With inputs from PTI