Kerala woman killed in attack will be recognised as a ‘terror victim’, says Israeli Consul General to South India

Jonathan Zadka said he decided to personally visit Soumya Santosh’s family members to convey Israel’s sympathy in person.

The death of Soumya Santosh — the Indian caretaker to an elderly Israeli woman, who fell victim to rocket attacks by a Palestinian Islamist group from Gaza — is an “unbelievable tragedy and proof that rockets are being fired targeting Israel’s civilian population”. This is a complicated time in Israel, Jonathan Zadka, Israel’s Consul General to South India has said.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone while on his way to attend the funeral of Soumya in Idukki district in Kerala, Mr. Zadka said he decided to personally visit her family members to convey Israel’s sympathy in person. She would be recognised (by Israel) as a terror victim and whatever was possible would be done to extend help to her family, after her last rites were performed.

Parallels with 26/11

Drawing parallels with the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, where the casualties included Israeli citizens, he said both were “cowardly attacks by terrorists on innocent civilians”. They left children sans parent(s) (Soumya leaves behind a 9-year-old son, while Jewish boy Moshe Holtzberg had lost his parents in the Mumbai terror attack while he and his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel survived the attack). “Only the circumstances were different. We are grateful for the support from the Indian government and its people when we face pre-meditated terror attacks on civilians, their houses, schools and hospitals. Ms. Santosh was at her employer’s home when it was hit by rockets.”

To a question on alleged political uncertainty in Israel being a factor in the ongoing standoff between Israel and Palestinian militant organisations, Mr. Zadka said, “Terror organisation Hamas has taken the local population of Palestine as hostage. The organisation controls the area and the ongoing attack on Israel is part of their agenda.”

He termed as unfortunate many people’s representatives in Kerala having to delete the reference to ‘terrorist’ attack that led to Soumya’s death, from their condolence message in social media pages, following alleged cyber bullying.

On how the Israeli people, known as survivors — having overcome the Pharaoh, Hitler and attack by the militaries of Arab countries combined — are responding to the current standoff, he said Israel was committed to defend its people against such attacks.

COVID-19 relief

Answering a question on Israel’s help to India to combat the massive spike in COVID-19 cases, Mr. Zadka said, “The Israeli government has coordinated and sent to India three flights with necessary equipment, including three oxygen generator plants, thousands of oxygen generators and ventilators. Aside from that, there are numerous initiatives to provide such support from NGOs, companies and individuals — evidence of the good relations and friendship between Israel and India. We recognise the fact that India was supporting Israel in our time of need, in 2020.”

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