Noted British journalist finds Israel’s fingerprints “all over India’s escalating conflict with Pakistan”
Robert Fisk, The Independent’s multi-award-winning Middle East correspondent, connects the dots to reveal Israeli hand in major escalation between the two South Asian countries that was sparked by a suicide attack on the Indian-controlled Kashmir earlier this month.
His latest article starts: “When I heard the first news report, I assumed it was an Israeli air raid on Gaza. Or Syria. Air strikes on a ‘terrorist camp’ were the first words. A ‘command and control centre’ destroyed, many ‘terrorists’ killed. The military was retaliating for a ‘terrorist attack’ on its troops, we were told.
An Islamist ‘jihadi’ base had been eliminated. Then I heard the name Balakot and realised that it was neither in Gaza, nor in Syria – not even in Lebanon – but in Pakistan. Strange thing, that. How could anyone mix up Israel and India?
Well, don’t let the idea fade away. Two thousand five hundred miles separate the Israeli ministry of defence in Tel Aviv from the Indian ministry of defence in New Delhi, but there’s a reason why the usual cliché-stricken agency dispatches sound so similar.”
The Beirut-based journalist also highlights that “for months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – ‘anti-Islamist’ coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.”
India was Israel’s largest arms client in 2017, paying £530m for Israeli air defence, radar systems and ammunition, including air-to-ground missiles – most of them tested during Israel’s military offensives against Palestinians and targets in Syria.
“Not by chance, therefore, has the Indian press just trumpeted the fact that Israeli-made Rafael Spice-2000 ‘smart bombs’ were used by the Indian air force in its strike against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) ‘terrorists’ inside Pakistan,” writes Mr. Fisk.
‘Like many Israeli boasts of hitting similar targets, the Indian adventure into Pakistan might owe more to the imagination than military success’
He also mocked Indian authorities for boasting the claims of “eliminating the 300-400 terrorists” supposedly by the Israeli-manufactured and Israeli-supplied GPS-guided bombs – which in reality turned out to be “little more than rocks and trees”.
It was India’s first “air strike” on Pakistani soil since the neighbours fought a war in 1971 — when neither had nuclear weapons. The much-hyped “air assault” came in ‘retaliation’ to a savage ambush of Indian troops in the Pulwama district of the Occupied Jammu &Kashmir on 14 February, which the “JeM” claimed, left 45 Indian soldiers dead.
Islamabad, while denying the Indian strike caused any major damage or casualties, said that this was New Delhi's strategy to divert international attention from human rights violations taking place in the Kashmir region.
There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics. pic.twitter.com/8IQ5BPhLj2— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) February 27, 2019
Pakistan, a nation of nearly 200 million Muslims, is trying its best to play down the threat of war with India amid the rare aerial engagement over the divided and disputed territory of Kashmir that resulted in shooting down of two Indian jets and arrest of an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot.
Further highlighting the hatred prevailing against Muslims in both Israel and India, Mr Fisk reminds the world that “Israel itself is trying to explain away its continued sales of tanks, weapons and boats to the Myanmar military dictatorship – while western nations impose sanctions on the government which has attempted to destroy its minority and largely Muslim Rohingya people.”
“But Israel’s arms trade with India is legal, above-board and much advertised by both sides.”
From Mr Fisk’s article, we get to know that the “Israelis have filmed joint exercises between their own ‘special commando’ units and those sent by India to be trained in the Negev desert, again with all the expertise supposedly learned by Israel in Gaza and other civilian-thronged battlefronts.”
Detailing the joint drill, the Independent’s correspondent shares “at least 16 Indian ‘Garud’ commandos – part of a 45-strong Indian military delegation – were for a time based at the Nevatim and Palmachim air bases in Israel.”
Then, he finds a stark similarity between the rhetoric ratcheted up by Modi and his Israeli friend Benjamin Netanyahu during their recent visits to each other’s countries.
“In his first visit to India last year – preceded by a trip to Israel by nationalist Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu recalled the 2008 Islamist attacks on Mumbai in which almost 170 civilians were killed. “Indians and Israelis know too well the pain of terrorist attacks,” he told Modi. “We remember the horrific savagery of Mumbai. We grit our teeth, we fight back, we never give in.” This was also BJP-speak.”
He also mentions “several Indian commentators have warned that right-wing Zionism and right-wing Nationalism under Modi should not become the foundation stone of the relationship between the two countries, both of which – in rather different ways – fought the British Empire”.
Who is the victim, Muslims or Hindus?
Mr. Fisk also refers to the statement of Brussels researcher Shairee Malhotra, whose work has appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which she pointed out that India has the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan – upward of 180 million people.
“The India-Israel relationship is also commonly being framed in terms of a natural convergence of ideas between their ruling BJP and Likud parties,” Malhotra wrote last year.
Mr. Fisk, who has lived in the Arab world for more than 40 years, notes “Hindu nationalists had constructed ‘a narrative of Hindus as historically victims at the hands of Muslims’, an attractive idea to those Hindus who recall partition and the continuing “turbulent relationship” with Pakistan”.
He goes on “… it is difficult to see how Zionist nationalism will not leach into Hindu nationalism when Israel is supplying so many weapons to India – the latest of which India, which has enjoyed diplomatic relations with Israel since 1992, has already used against Islamists inside Pakistan.”
“Signing up to the “war on terror” – especially “Islamist terror” – may seem natural for two states built on colonial partition whose security is threatened by Muslim neighbours.”
In the end, the noted journalist tries to knock sense into the warmongers, saying “In both cases, their struggle is over the right to own or occupy territory. Israel, India and Pakistan all possess nuclear weapons. Another good reason not to let Palestine and Kashmir get tangled up together. And to leave India’s 180 million Muslims alone.”
Read full article here.
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