Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel in row over Lula’s Gaza comments

Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel in row over Lula’s Gaza comments
Brazil recalls ambassador to Israel in row over Lula’s Gaza comments

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW DELHI: An Indian trade union representing thousands of port workers has refused to handle cargo shipments of weapons linked to Israel in the latest show of solidarity from the South Asian country, which purchases billions worth of arms annually from Tel Aviv.

The Water Transport Workers Federation of India, whose members comprise over 3,500 workers in 11 major Indian ports, announced the decision in a letter dated Feb. 14, citing its stance against Israel’s war on Gaza and the killing of innocent people.

“The Water Transport Workers Federation of India … has decided to refuse to load or unload weaponized cargoes from Israel or any other country which could handle military equipment and its allied cargo for war in Palestine,” the letter reads.

They also called on their members “to no longer handle any ships which carry military material to Palestine or Israel” as well as for an immediate ceasefire.

“We declare our solidarity with those who campaign for peace. We call upon the workers of the world and peace-loving people to stand with the demand of free Palestine.”

T. Narendra Rao, the federation’s general-secretary, told Arab News that the working class organization “always opposes any war.”

“Because if a war takes place, the main victims are the poor women and children. So we never wanted to have a war,” he said.

“In India, so far no such vessel has come. If it comes, the workers belonging to our federation will boycott it. This is in support of a free Palestine.”

More than 28,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its relentless bombardment of the densely populated enclave last October, data from the local health ministry showed on Sunday, two-thirds of whom are women and children.

India has exported more than 20 military drones to the Israeli military, according to reports from local media, which they say adds to Tel Aviv’s expanding fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that are being used extensively in its military operation in Gaza.

With strong defense ties, New Delhi is also one of the largest buyers of Israeli military equipment, and reportedly purchases about $2 billion worth of weapons annually from Tel Aviv.

The All India Trade Union Congress, the oldest and second-largest trade union federation in India representing millions of workers, said they are supporting the water transport workers.

“We stand in solidarity with them,” AITUC Secretary Amarjeet Kaur told Arab News.

“The Israeli government is defying world opinion. The world opinion through the UN General Assembly is that there should be an immediate ceasefire and there should be acceptance of both the nations to exist peacefully — Israel as well as the state of Palestine.”

The Indian transport workers are conveying the public’s refusal “to be the cog in the war machine,” said N Sai Bala Ji, an international relations expert and former student leader at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“The whole world is turning a blind eye to what is happening in Gaza — the mindless brutalities and genocide. The letter by the Water Transport Workers Federation of India gives us hope that the people are still fighting for justice and standing in solidarity with the hapless people,” Ji told Arab News.

Prof. Apoorvanand Jha from Delhi University, who translated Palestinian poetry to Hindi as a show of solidarity with Palestine, said Indian workers are making a statement.

“It is therefore very heartening to see the workers of India joining the international working class in boycotting Israel and thus making a statement asking it stop the genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

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