Demonstrators hold placards and shout slogans during a protest rally against the Israel's attacks on Gaza, outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi
Demonstrators hold placards and shout slogans during a protest rally against the Israel's attacks on Gaza, outside the Israeli embassy in New DelhiReuters

The Indian Parliament finally took up the burning issue of the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza for discussion in the Rajya Sabha today.

Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad began the discussion, lamenting the delay in debating on the issue.

"If we had discussed the issue when it was listed six days ago, India would have joined other nations and leaders who have condemned the attack. When the issue was listed six days ago, Israel was only conducting air attacks on Gaza and 200 had died, but in the last few days, the attack has been scaled up," he said.

Azad went into the background of Israel's history, citing changes in the land occupied by the two nations. "Gradually, Israel took over most of Palestinian land. Palestine is left with only 5 to 8 percent today. This is the cause for the fight," he explained.

"Teesre aadmi ne doosre aadmi ko kaha kabza karo (Third party told the second to capture the land of the first)", he added, referring to the United Nations' role in the formation of Israel.

Azad also mocked bigger nations, such as the United States, for not intervening. "For the last 15 days, big nations are giving only lip sympathy and just watching the spectre. Wherever they had interest of oil, they took action," he said.

"Today the question is where is India on this issue? We took seven days just to decide on debating on the issue. We should have been the first nation to have raised our concern on the issue. We made a mistake. We have ourselves experienced when India was suppressed by power. If we keep quiet today, it will be a bad thing."

Azad also laid down several statistics of the violence. "There have been 15,000 air strikes on Gaza strip and 1,500 tonnes of ammunition have been used on Gaza. The death toll has reached 450. Women and children are among the 3,500 injured. 1,800 homes have been destroyed, nine lakh people are without water, 22 lakh people are living in shelter camps, and thousands are displaced."

Asking if there was change in the policy from that of the previous governments towards the Israel-Palestine issue, Azad requested the government to rise to the occasion and pass a resolution to condemn Israel's use of force.

CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury termed the attack as a "genocide" and called Israel the "biggest terrorist". "I use this word deliberately. We cannot remain silent. I demand that a resolution be passed a la the one passed by the Vajpayee-led NDA government that condemned US aggression on Iraq in the past."

"I also demand that the government should immediately suspend all military purchases from Israel. India is the largest military purchaser from Israel," Yechury said.

"Israel must vacate all the illegally occupied territories of Palestine, and after that if there is a terrorist attack, I will be the first one to condem it. Israel is the biggest terrorist occupying the lands of Palestine illegally."

Both leaders evoked Mahatma Gandhi's adage that 'Palestine is for Arabs'.