India Faces Challenges in evacuating its citizens from War-torn Gaza

Arindam Bagchi

New Delhi: The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which has entered its 14th day, has created a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and many have lost their lives. India, along with the rest of the world, is closely monitoring the situation and trying to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens in the conflict zone.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), there were about four Indian nationals in Gaza before the war broke out on October 7, when Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking scores of hostages. The exact number of Indians currently in Gaza is not known, as the Israeli airstrikes and the Hamas rocket fire have severely disrupted the communication and transportation facilities.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday that it is difficult for Indian citizens to leave Gaza, as the only exit point from the besieged territory is the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which has been closed most of the time due to security reasons. He said that the government will arrange flights for them as per their demand, once they can reach the border. He also said that there is no report of any Indian casualty so far, except for one Indian national who was injured and is under medical care.

The government has launched ‘Operation Ajay’ to evacuate Indian citizens from Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, which has also been targeted by Hamas rockets. Under this operation, about 1,200 Indians and 18 Nepalese nationals have been airlifted from Tel Aviv on five flights. Bagchi said that the government strongly condemned the “terrible terrorist attack on Israel” on October 7 and expressed solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism. He said that India believes the international community must unite to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Arindam Bagchi

On the Palestine issue, Bagchi reiterated India’s long-standing position of supporting a two-state solution based on direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. He said that India has always advocated for Palestine to live in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders. He said that India has also expressed its concern over the civilian casualties due to the ongoing conflict and urged both sides to exercise restraint and avoid escalation. He said that India is also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and called for urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected population.