Srinagar | WTNS | Oct 24: India sent medical and disaster relief aid for Palestinians on Sunday (October 22).
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi announced on X (formerly Twitter) that an Indian Air Force C-17 flight carrying nearly 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief material departed for the El-Arish airport in Egypt.
“The material includes essential life-saving medicines, surgical items, tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, sanitary utilities, [and] water purification tablets among other necessary items,” Bagchi’s post said.
El-Arish airport is roughly 45 kilometres away from the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border with the Gaza strip.
Rafah is currently the only crossing point for humanitarian aid into Gaza.
But the crossing has not been fully operational since the war between Israel and Hamas began.
The BBC cited Egyptian media as saying that Israeli air strikes were causing disruptions near the crossing.
International aid to Palestine has remained in warehouses in El-Arish, but negotiations involving Israel, Egypt, the US and the UN resulted in the Rafah crossing opening on Saturday (October 21).
A convoy including 20 aid trucks entered Gaza following the crossing’s opening, Al Jazeera reported.
India supports Palestine and Palestinian refugees through contributions to the UN’s relief and works agency (UNRWA).
It has contributed a total of $36.5 million to the UNRWA between 2002 and 2022-23, the external affairs ministry said in a brief dated May this year.
Bagchi said on behalf of the ministry earlier this month that India has “always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine”.
This includes Palestine “living within secure and recognised borders side by side at peace with Israel”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas last week and “reiterated India’s long-standing and principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue”.
He has also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed solidarity with Israel.
“People of India firmly stand with Israel in this difficult hour. India str
ongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” a post from Modi’s X account said.
Meanwhile Adnan Abu Al-Haija, the Palestinian envoy, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Indian government for this timely support. In an exclusive conversation with WION, he said, “I would like to thank the Government of India for this humanitarian step. And I think our people in Gaza need the medicine, need this kind of relief. The situation after 15 days of complete closure of food, water, medicine, oxygen, and petrol.”
When questioned about the possibility of additional aid from India, Adnan Abu Al-Haija stressed the importance of political actions accompanying the humanitarian support. He acknowledged India’s friendship with both Palestine and Israel, urging a concerted effort to halt the ongoing conflict. He stated, “We are also looking for political attitudes. I know India is a friend of both Palestine and Israel, and this war should be stopped from one side, and humanitarian aid should go to the people of Gaza.”