As the air strikes against Hamas in Gaza entered its second week,Israels Ambassador to India Mark Sofer has made it clear that his country would continue the military operations till it had deprived the Hamas of its capability to launch rocket attacks into Israeli areas.
One thing is certain. There will not be a return to status quo ante in the region. Hopefully,the operation would not take long, Sofer told The Indian Express,claiming that extra efforts were being taken to ensure there were no civilian casulties. In fact,our hospitals are accepting non-Hamas civilian casualties,if any,for medical treatment.
He said the Israeli action against Hamas,in which more than 400 people had so far been killed,had been necessitated by repeated provocations from the other side which had fired as many as 37,000 rockets in the last seven years into residential areas in Israel. About 3,000 of these rockets had been launched in the last year alone,he said. There comes a time when a country has to decide that it cannot take any more,that enough is enough and action has to be taken, Sofer said.
Having been a target in the Mumbai attacks too,Sofer desisted from comparing the contrasting approaches,but said while no two situations were alike,India faced a similar threat. India will have to make its own decisions regarding that. As a foreign country,we are no one to say what India should do. And of course,no two situations are exactly alike, he said,but added that Israel had a very sympathetic view of the difficult situation that India was facing.
India lives in a shocking neighbourhood,very much like Israel. It is not easy being in such a neighbourhood. That is why Israel has stood steadfast by India during
and after the Mumbai terror attacks. We hardly even changed our travel advisory, he said.
Talking about the commando operation in Mumbai,especially at the Nariman House in which Israeli citizens were killed by the attackers,Sofer tried to dispel the perception that his country was critical of the operation. The operation by the Indian forces was nothing less than heroic. They staked their own lives for saving those of others. We have nothing but the highest praise and appreciation for them for the manner in which they carried out this extremely complicated and complex operation, he said.
Sofer said because both the countries were in the same boat as far as threat from fundamentalist Islamist forces was concerned,there was a better understanding of each other both at the level of governments and general public.
The determination not to let fundamentalist Islamist forces hold sway is common in both the countries. The Israeli embassy has been inundated with emails and letters of support after the Mumbai attacks. There is a justified revulsion at the kind of threat we face, he said.