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14 Apr, 2024 07:15

India calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’ amid Israel-Iran tensions 

New Delhi says it is “deeply concerned” about the situation in the Middle East, which “threatens peace and security”
India calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’ amid Israel-Iran tensions 

New Delhi has expressed concern over the escalating hostilities between Iran and Israel, which “threatens peace and security in the region,” the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, hours after Iran conducted a retaliatory attack on Israel.

Iran has launched a massive drone and missile attack on Israel in response to an airstrike on its consulate in Damascus, Syria earlier this month. The attack killed seven officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, including two generals.

“We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence, and return to the path of diplomacy,” New Delhi said in a statement. It added that it is closely monitoring the situation and its diplomatic missions are in touch with the Indian diaspora in the region. 

On Saturday, the IRGC stormed an Israeli-operated container ship – MSC Aries – in the Persian Gulf and took control of the vessel. According to Indian media, of the 25 crew members aboard the ship, 17 are Indian. “We are in touch with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure security, welfare, and early release of Indian nationals,” a government source told PTI.

India issued an advisory on Friday urging citizens to avoid traveling to Iran or Israel. It asked Indians residing in the two countries to observe “utmost precautions” and “restrict movements.”

Tehran launched over 200 kamikaze drones, and ballistic and cruise missiles toward Israel on Friday, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson. Most of them were intercepted outside of Israeli airspace, the official claimed, adding that some reached their targets, inflicting “minor damage.” 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was quoted by IRNA news agency as saying it launched “tens of missile and drones” and “successfully hit and destroyed” key military targets belonging to the Israeli army in the occupied Palestinian territories, in response to “numerous Israeli crimes.”

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar traveled to Tehran earlier this year amid increasing attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Houthi rebels allegedly backed by Iran. Speaking to the media after talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Jaishankar stated that the attacks on ships “in the vicinity of India” impact the nation’s energy and economic interests. Around 80% of India’s trade in goods with Europe passes through the Red Sea. 

The Indian Navy has significantly stepped up its presence in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict, attacks by Houthi rebels, and increasing piracy activities, deploying dozens of warships that have responded to more than 18 incidents in the past three months.

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