The last few weeks have seen a sharp escalation in tensions in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the territory’s long-standing autonomy, putting it on lockdown and plunging the region into chaos.
India has ordered all tourists and religious pilgrims to evacuate the territory, while sending in tens of thousands of armed soldiers and shutting down virtually all telecommunication networks. These soldiers join an occupying force estimated to number within the hundreds of thousands in what is already considered the most militarized place on earth.
India’s oppression of Kashmiris, however, cannot be seen in a vacuum. Over the past decades, the country’s growing ties with Israel have created a situation in which the the oppression of Kashmir is linked to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
The Indian occupation of Kashmir and the establishment of Israel in 1948, which resulted in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, began only months apart from one another. In July 1949, two years after India and Pakistan declared independence from British rule, the two countries signed an agreement to establish a ceasefire line, dividing the Kashmir region between them. Indian rule in the territory has led to decades of unrest.
Although the Indian presence in Kashmir never amounted to settler colonialism like in the Palestinian case, where a large proportion of the existing population of the region was expelled and replaced by a settler population, India has maintained a heavy military presence in the area and has acted as a police state vis-à-vis Kashmiri civilians and politicians.
Kashmiri solidarity with the Palestinians can be traced as far back as the 1950s and 60s, when the Kashmir liberation movement sought to align itself with other anti-imperialist struggles abroad. It was also during this period when India first established relations with Israel. Although then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly championed the Palestinian cause, he permitted the opening of an Israeli consulate in Mumbai in 1953. The consulate gathered information on India’s Evacuee Property Laws, which served as a model for Israel’s Absentee Property Law, a legal instrument that allowed the state to expropriate land belonging to Palestinian refugees.
The late stages of the Cold War saw a dramatic improvement in Indian-Israeli relations. In 1992, under the premiership of Narasimha Rao, a member of the Indian National Congress, India and Israel established normal relations, with India opening an embassy in Tel Aviv in January. Two main factors explain this development, both of which are related to the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel’s occupation as well as armed insurrection in Kashmir against Indian rule in the late 1980s.
The first reason stems from the decline of the Soviet Union, which forced India to search for a new supplier of arms and military technology. Israel, whose flagging economy at the time necessitated entering new markets, represented an ideal partner. The relationship was further strengthened when the U.S. imposed sanctions on arms sales to India after the latter conducted nuclear tests in 1998. Those sanctions resulted in India becoming Israel’s largest client for arms and military technology, a legacy that persists until today.
The second reason is based on the convergence of the logic that Israel and India employed in suppressing popular resistance in the occupied territories and armed insurrection in Kashmir, respectively, highlighting issues of security, counterterrorism and the threat of Islamic extremism. In 1992, then Indian Defense Minister Sharad Pawar admitted to Indian-Israeli cooperation on issues of counterterrorism, including exchanging information on so-called terrorist groups, national doctrines, and operational experience – in other words, strategies, methods, and tactics of occupation and domination. This lead to a shift in India’s position on Palestine, which began mirroring Israel’s insistence that Kashmir was primarily a matter of Indian domestic concern.
Between Zionism and Hindu Nationalism Relations between India and Israel grew even closer with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1990s. The BJP, which today is led by Modi, adheres to the political ideology known as Hindutva, or Hindu Nationalism. The history of Hindu nationalists’ affinity with Zionism is well documented by professor Sumantra Bose of the London School of Economics, who traces it back to the 1920s when Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the father of Hindutva, supported the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The BJP and other Hindu Nationalists have since become obsessed with replicating the Zionist project in turning a constitutionally secular India into a Hindu ethnocratic state.
Many of the BJP’s aspirations and policy proposals for Kashmir are imitations of extant Israeli practices in Palestine. Key among these is the desire to build Israeli-style Hindu-only settlements in Kashmir as a way of instigating demographic change. For example, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a non-state volunteer Hindu paramilitary volunteer group to which the BJP are affiliated, have long desired the repeal of the state subject laws that have maintained the demographic make-up of Kashmir.
These changes are clearly inspired by the Israeli settlement model, as expressed by BJP lawmaker Ravinder Raina, who, in 2015, stated that the government of India will use its army to protect Hindu-only settlements in Jammu and Kashmir. This type of securitization and protection would entail an expansion of the security apparatus that already restricts the flow of life for most Kashmiris, using them as a pretext to justify a new level of domination and intrusiveness.
Aside from the parallels in policy objectives, the discourse used by supporters of the current regime in India resemble old Israeli refrains. Both Israel and India claim to be exceptional democracies, despite their treatment of large swaths of populations under their control. Additionally, both Zionists and Hindu Nationalists argue that the existence of many Muslim countries in the world necessitates a Jewish and Hindu state, respectively. This perpetuates the lie that Palestinians and Indian Muslims can supposedly live elsewhere, yet choose to live in Palestine and India only to antagonize Jews and Hindus.
Meanwhile, the variety of tactics used by India to control the civilian population of Kashmir strongly resembles those used by Israel in Palestine. These include, “arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, curfews, collective punishment, administrative detention, torture, rape and sexual abuse, the suppression of freedom of speech and assembly, house demolitions, and so forth.”
Decades of Solidarity The bond of solidarity that exists between Palestinians and Kashmiris runs deep, and can be traced as far back as the 1960s, when protests erupted in Kashmir over Israel’s behavior around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, resulting in deaths and curfews. Since then, Kashmiri solidarity with the Palestinian cause can be loosely understood as having gone through three, relatively overlapping stages.
The first of these stages, which began during the 1960s, saw the Kashmiri Plebiscite Front first cast India as an “imperialist state” that rejected the Kashmiri right to self-determination. In doing this, the Kashmiri liberation movement aligned itself with similar global causes, including the Vietnamese struggle against the United States, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and the Palestinian struggle against Israel. Kashmiri scholar Mohamad Junaid writes that Palestine “became an evocative metaphor among Kashmiris to describe their own condition, reflecting an incipient fear of ethnic cleansing, land dispossession, and an ever-tightening architecture of the occupation.”
The second stage, which began during the 1980s, saw the basis of solidarity take on a more religious character. This period coincided with the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union, which indirectly led to the rise of armed Islamist resistance groups such as Hamas in Palestine and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in Kashmir. Rather than the discourse of solidarity being based largely in the language of anti-imperalism and nationalism, it became characterized by concepts of jihad and Islamic solidarity. This trend was further strengthened during the 1990s with the rise of the BJP, which led to an increase in communal tensions and insecurity surrounding Muslim life in India.
The third and current stage of Kashmiri-Palestinian solidarity comes as a response to the growing ties between India and Israel. It has no longer become accurate for Palestinians and Kashmiris to view Israel and India as simply analogous oppressors — many now view them as partners in occupation. As has been demonstrated by the transnational Palestinian response to the recent events, solidarity with Kashmir has taken on an increasingly more practical importance.
An Instrument of Surrender The revocation of Articles 35A and 370 paves the way for Indian presence in Kashmir to further mirror Zionist presence in historic Palestine, since this allows the Indian state to rule Kashmir directly without the need for Kashmir’s state legislature, which was also recently abolished. Furthermore, it facilitates the execution of plans to alter the demographic make-up of Kashmir by allowing Indians from across the country to purchase property and settle there under the protection of the Indian military presence, just as the demographic make-up of the West Bank continues to be altered with the construction of Jewish-only settlements.
The Kashmiri state legislature and its main politicians, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have long acted as middlemen who manage the natives on behalf of the occupying power, facilitating the occupation in much the same way as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does in the West Bank. Just as Edward Said once referred to the Oslo Accords as “an instrument of Palestinian surrender,” many Kashmiris regard the 1975 Indira-Sheikh Accord as a betrayal of past liberation movements. The Accord allowed previously popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah to become the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in exchange for forfeiting the longstanding Kashmiri demand for self-determination.
With the unprecedented change of Jammu and Kashmir’s legal status from a special status state to a union territory without a legislative assembly, India’s colonial domination over the contested region will only become more overtly coercive in representing Indian interests. This is a crucial development to be observed closely by Palestinians who live in areas where the Israeli occupation is currently facilitated by the Palestinian Authority.
As things move forward, it is increasingly clear that the colonial processes in Kashmir and Palestine will become further interdependent on one another. What Israel does in Palestine is likely to happen in Kashmir, and what India does in Kashmir is likely to happen in Palestine. In aiming to dismantle Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism, it is essential to observe its global consequences, for it is highly likely that these interdependent processes will require a multilateral confrontation.
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation on Tuesday threatened to assassinate Hamas leaders during any future military aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Israel held Hamas responsible for the “recent attacks” carried out “armed Palestinians” on the border between the Gaza Strip and the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz in press statements said, “We are working constantly to reduce the threat of Hamas, such as by destroying their tunnels. We currently respond to every security incident, but there is the possibility that we could begin a campaign there.”
Kats talked about the latest infiltration attempts into the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories from the Gaza Strip which led to the killing of five Palestinians and said, “We will not tolerate this.”
He added that the moment Israel decides a new military campaign against the Gaza Strip there will be no immunity for Hamas leaders.
Member of Hamas’s political bureau Salah al-Bardawil said that his movement is not afraid of Israeli threats to assassinate Hamas figures and launch a new military assault on the Gaza Strip.
Al-Bardawil said that these threats, which are part of internal election campaigns, are not the first of their kind.
“Every party want to show the public that they are the strongest through racist statements against the Palestinian people and their resistance. That’s all they have for the elections,” he added.
He continued, “Who wants to fight for the future of Palestine is fully aware that the price will be very high, and we are ready to pay all the prices for our rights.”
The Hamas official said that Israel is not ready for a new war, but warned that Israel now bets on the increasing normalization between Israel and some Arab countries hoping that it would isolate the Palestinians in the region and push them to surrender, which “will not happen” as al-Bardawil said.
TULKAREM, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli soldiers shot, Tuesday, a young Palestinian man and his wife, near the Annexation Wall, west of Zeita village, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed at the gate of the Annexation Wall in that area, opened fire at Yahia Abu Khater, 25, and his wife, while they were walking near it.
The Palestinian couple were both injured, before the soldiers abducted the husband and took him in an Israeli ambulance, while his wife was transferred by Palestinian medics to a governmental hospital in Tulkarem.
There were no protests or incidents taking place when the soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian husband and his wife, and it remains unclear why the soldiers opened fire in the first place.
AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation police on Monday kidnaped a Palestinian citizen with special needs from his home in Issawiya district, east of Jerusalem.
Head of the Issawiya follow-up committee Mohamed Abul-Hems said that police forces stormed the house of Jarrah Naser in Abu Riyallah neighborhood in the district and rounded him up, with no regard for his medical condition.
Naser has been suffering from hemiplegia (paralysis) since his birth, according to Abul-Hems.
AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli “Planning and Construction Committee” in occupied Jerusalem has approved two plans for the construction of 641 units for illegal colonialist settlers, west of Hebron Road, in the city.
The first plan aims at building new units around Talpiot area, west of Hebron road, along the blue light-railroad line and east of Bethlehem, while the second plan will add units in Shaare Zion illegal colony.
They aim at building two apartment buildings, in addition to a Synagogue, an industrial structure and various health facilities for the colonists.
The Palestinian National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Colonies, which is run by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has reported that Israel’s illegal colonialist activities are also tools used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other extreme right-wing parties, in their election campaign, especially ahead of the new election in the country this coming September 17th.
It added that Israel has approved, last week, more than 2304 units in illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, and stated that the new approvals, including upcoming plans, are part of a series of constructions Netanyahu aims to carry out, in direct cooperation with U.S. President D. Trump, and his fanatic cabinet.
Two weeks ago, the Israel government approved structural plans for 6000 units in the West Bank, while the “Higher Planning Council” of the so-called Civil Administration Office, the executive and administrative branch of Israel’s illegal occupation, has approved preliminary plans for additional 200 units in Mitzad colony, and the constriction of 100 units in Abi Hanahal colony, east of Gush Etzion Bloc, south of Bethlehem.
While Israel continues to approve plans, build and expand its colonies in the occupied West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, under the full support of the Trump administration, all if the colonies are illegal under International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and various United Nations and international resolutions and treaties.
HEBRON, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of al-Khalil before Muslim worshipers and prevented them from performing their prayers at the holy site, including the Eid al-Adha prayer.
According to local sources, the IOF allowed Jewish settlers to perform their Talmudic rituals at the Mosque and to pitch tents in its courtyards.
Meanwhile, the IOF intensified its presence in al-Khalil and its vicinity and obstructed the movement of Palestinian citizens and vehicles on roads around it.
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haneyya has warned of any Israeli measures targeting the Aqsa Mosque through attempting to divide it temporally and spatially or changing its Islamic identity.
In press remarks on Sunday, Haneyya stressed the need for “uniting the Palestinian people, closing ranks and activating all forms of resistance in order to protect the Aqsa Mosque and all Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
“The Hamas leadership is following the Israeli measures against the Aqsa Mosque, the suppression of worshipers and murabatin (sentinels) inside it, and the repeated calls to defile it, especially during the holy Eid al-Adha, in a bid to violate the rights and provoke the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world on these blessed days,” he said.
He called on the Arab nation and the Palestinian people to assume their historical responsibility towards the events happening in Occupied Jerusalem and at the Aqsa Mosque and to support the Jerusalemites and their steadfastness in the face of the most dangerous conspiracy targeting the Mosque.
AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Islamic organizations and bodies in Occupied Jerusalem on Friday announced that all the mosques in the city will be closed during Eid al-Adha except al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Palestinian organizations said in a statement that they will close all mosques across Jerusalem, only allowing Eid prayers to take place at al-Aqsa in a bid to protect the site against planned settler raids.
The statement stressed that the step comes in response to an announcement by the Israeli police that they would conduct an “assessment” of the situation at al-Aqsa in the early hours of Eid al-Adha to decide whether to allow Israeli settlers to enter the mosque.
The statement called on the Palestinians to intensify their presence in al-Aqsa Mosque on the first day of Eid to protect the holy site.
Several extremist settler groups, especially the Temple Mount organization, have called on the Israeli government to allow settler tours inside al-Aqsa Mosque during Eid al-Adha and to prevent the entry of Muslim worshipers during that time.