Israel is urging India to designate Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, as a terrorist organisation, like the United States and the European Union have done in the past, Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon said on Wednesday.
“It is time to designate Hamas as a terrorist organisation in India,” Gilon told reporters in Delhi during a media briefing on the Israel-Hamas war, adding that after Hamas’ brutal attacks on Israel on October 7, which killed 1,400 people, the Israeli government spoke to the Indian government about proscribing the Palestinian militant group.
Hamas is not on the Indian government’s list of banned organisations.
“This is not another skirmish between Israel and Hamas. This is a watershed event,” Gilon said of the October 7 attacks.
“We are not looking for any solution like a local ceasefire that Israel did in the past, and that always turned out to be a mistake.”
Israel’s main goal, by launching retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza and an expected ground invasion into the coastal enclave, is to ensure that “such barbaric acts” against Israeli civilians are not repeated, he said.
Israel’s intelligence failure to prevent the October 7 attacks, especially via land when Hamas militants entered towns and villages in southern Israel and went on a macabre killing spree before abducting some 222 people, including children and the elderly, has stunned many.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in Gaza following Israel’s airstrikes, according to the Associated Press that cited the Hamas-run Health Ministry. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, it reported.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire to control the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Gilon said the war is about Israel’s survival in the Middle East, a "tough neighbourhood", where “vulnerability is not appreciated”. He said the Hamas attacks, unless countered forcefully, could embolden extremists in the region and beyond, including in South Asia.
He said peace in the Middle East has been disturbed as things were changing for the better, through some enhanced engagements. The war also comes at a time of global realignment.
Gilon said the US and many other democracies understand how cruel Hamas’ attacks were.
“And then you see other major powers in the world that were less condemning of Hamas,” he added, without taking names.
China and Russia have sought a ceasefire and reiterated a two-state solution. They have both volunteered mediation roles.
Gilon also described India as a close ally of Israel.
India has sent some 38 tonnes of humanitarian assistance for Palestinians and has encouraged direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine.