26/11 Mumbai Attack Planners Should "Pay Heavy Price": Israel's Speaker
The planners of the “abominable” 2008 Mumbai terror attack should pay a heavy price for it, the Speaker of Israel’s Parliament has said ahead of his maiden visit to India, asserting that the fight against terrorism is common concern for the two countries.
Amir Ohana, a close confidante of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will travel to India for four days starting March 31, on his first official visit abroad after assuming office in December last year.
Stating that the menace of terrorism is a common concern, Ohana, a former Shin Bet (Israeli internal security agency) official, told PTI that the fight to counter it requires all the progressive countries to come together.
Both India and Israel face the problem of terrorism, and the fight against it is a joint one, Ohana said.
“We all remember the abominable terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 in which over 207 people were murdered, of which 178 were Indians. Among the foreigners who were murdered were unfortunately also Israelis and Jews who came to the Chabad house,” Ohana pointed out.
“It was an attack not only on India but also on Jews and free people everywhere,” the Knesset Speaker said, adding that it was an attack on the shared values of India and Israel.
“Whoever planned and sent the terrorists from the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba should pay a heavy price for it”, he said.
“The attack on the Chabad house (in Mumbai) symbolises a common pain for India and Israel, but also our partnership in the uncompromising fight against terrorism,” Ohana said.
The fight against terrorism is a necessity for all free countries, he added, and in particular for two countries like India and Israel.
Shared values, concerns, pain and immense potential in the strategic partnership continue to strengthen Indo-Israel ties, Ohana said.
“When I had to decide where to go on my first official visit as Speaker of the Knesset, India was the most interesting option for several reasons,” Parliament Speaker said.
He said that India is a major developing power, having many things in common with Israel and that no Speaker of the Knesset has ever visited the country.
“I thought that it is time to do so. It is important to me to bring together the countries, the parliaments and the people, who have a lot in common”, Ohana said.
He also spoke of the historical lack of anti-semitism in India and the deepening collaboration between the two countries in several fields.
“Unlike most of the countries I visited in the past, there is no anti-Semitism in India. It’s a unique thing”, he stressed.
Ohana on Thursday paid his respects to Indian soldiers who fought in the historic battle of World War I to liberate the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa from the Ottomans.
During his visit to India, Ohana will be signing a cooperation agreement between the two parliaments with his counterpart, Om Birla, to facilitate knowledge exchange between the two institutions and hold a series of parliamentary, political and economic meetings.
He will be accompanied by lawmakers Michael Biton and Amit Halevi, the chairman of the Israel-India inter-parliamentary friendship group.
Ohana sees the visit as yet another step “to tighten and strengthen the cooperation between the countries in general and between the parliaments in particular for the benefit of the citizens of both countries.” The delegation will be meeting President Draupadi Murmu, Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, among several other officials.
The delegation will also be visiting Mumbai, where they would pay their respects to the lost lives at the Chabad House.
They will meet the CEO of the National Stock Exchange during the four-day visit.
The 26/11 terror continues to be an emotional moment for many Israelis who feel it is a shared pain that binds the two countries together.
In a special gesture, Moshe Holtzberg, who, as a toddler, survived the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, was invited to the inaugural ceremony of the newly elected Knesset in November of last year.
The 16-year-old recited a Chapter from the Book of Psalms (Tehillim) “for my brothers and friends” during the inauguration ceremony.
Moshe was a two-year toddler at the time of the attack. His parents, Gabriel and Rivka Holtzberg were killed in the attack, but he had a lucky escape when his nanny heard him crying and risked her own life to pull him out of the Chabad house.
Israeli leaders and officials have repeatedly called for the perpetrators of the horrendous crime to be “brought to justice”.
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