Conflict Between Israel and Palestine
Syllabus: GS2/ India & Foreign Relations
- Recently, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a devastating attack on Israel known as Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Storm.
- Israel retaliated under the code name Operation Iron Sword.
About the recent attack
- The Al-Aqsa Storm: Also known as ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’, Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Storm’ is a military operation led by a surprise attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
- The attack involved firing thousands of rockets at occupied territories, including enemy positions, airports, and military positions.
- A major factor in this conflict could be the presence of Shiite Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
- Israel’s declaration of war: Israel has now declared war, raising global concerns for an already volatile region of the world that has been beset by decades of regional, sectarian and communal rivalries, and intervention from foreign powers.
Who are Hamas?
- Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist group and one of the two major political parties in the region.
- Currently, it governs more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
- Foundation: The group was founded in the late 1980s, after the beginning of the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other countries.
Role of Hamas in the Conflict
- Hamas believed “a two-state solution would forgo the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the historic lands seized from them in 1948 when Israel was created”.
- It carried out numerous Suicide bombings, bus bombings, killing many Israelis, and stepped up its attacks since its inception.
- Over the years, Israel and Hamas have been in a perpetual state of conflict.
|Who are Hezbollah?
– About: Hezbollah, whose name means ‘Party of God’, is a Shiite Islamic militant organisation from Lebanon.
1. Hezbollah originated during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), which was a result of “long-simmering discontent over the large, armed Palestinian presence in the country”.
– Role in conflict: It opposes Israel and Western influence in West Asia.
1. It has also, along with Russia and Iran, supported the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria during its civil war.
2. The US estimates that Iran supplies hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to Hezbollah and that it has thousands of fighters.
- Inception of Conflict: The United Nations (UN) proposed an Arab-Jewish partition of Palestine between Palestine and the new state of Israel.
- This partition plan mandated 53 percent of the land to the Jewish-majority state (Israel) and 47 percent to the Palestinian-majority state (Palestine).
- This idea didn’t receive well by the Arab countries in the Middle East.
- First Arab-Israeli war: Jewish paramilitary groups, however, formed the state of Israel by force in 1948. This prompted a deadly war with its Arab neighbours – Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan in 1948. This was the first Arab-Israeli war.
- Israel won this war and ended up occupying more land than previously envisaged in the 1947 UN partition plan.
- The Palestinians were forced out of their homes when the State of Israel was created in historical Palestine in 1948 (the Palestinians call the events ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe).
- Twenty-eight of those Palestinian families moved to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem to settle there.
Six-Day War of 1967: In 1967, the Arab countries again refused to recognise Israel as a state, which led to another war, known as the Six-Day War.
- Israel won this war too and occupied even more parts of Palestine.
- The West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which houses the holy Old City, came under Israel’s control.
- It also occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
- By the early 1970s, Jewish agencies started demanding the families leave the land.
- Oslo Accords: It was backed by the United Nations (UN) and signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993.
- Under this, a part of the West Bank came under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
- Abraham Accords: Abraham Accords are a series of agreements to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab states.
- The accords are named after the patriarch Abraham regarded as a prophet in Judaism and Islam.
- The accords, all of which were signed in the latter half of 2020, consist of a general declaration alongside bilateral agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.
- The accord has normalised the relations between many West Asian countries and Israel.
- 11 days war: In May 2021, Israeli police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam, which set off an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 200 Palestinians and more than 10 Israelis.
- Backdrop of the recent attack: Hamas’s attack follows months of rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with stepped-up Israeli raids, Palestinian street attacks and assaults by Jewish settlers on Palestinian villages.
- Issue over Jerusalem: Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem as its capital and not just a part of it. But Palestinians don’t agree with that and rather want it to be their capital of future independent Palestine.
- Israel’s relations with West Asian governments: The motivations of Hamas are related to it opposing the greater engagements between Israel and other West Asian governments in recent years
- It is a significant development considering the fact that most of them lacked diplomatic relations with Israel.
- It has these goals in common with Hezbollah. Also, Hezbollah is much better equipped to fight in this conflict.
- Peace based on a “two-state solution” is much needed with the help of international organisations and can only be achieved from Israel-Palestine talks.
National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS)
Syllabus: GS3/Conservation of Environment
- India is embarking on a major programme to launch its maiden national-level framework towards providing climate services and information.
- It is spearheaded by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
- The NFCS envisions to bring a seamless working platform for users of climate information and services, and help decide and mitigate climate risks for key sectors like agriculture, energy, disaster management, health and water.
- Since the 2009 declaration of frameworks for climate services, Switzerland, China, Germany and the United Kingdom have launched the NFCS. Now India has joined the league.
What will the NFCS do?
- In lines with the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), the national framework will be based on country-specific weather and stakeholder needs.
- Along with the identified sectors of focus, India could add other relevant sectors like transport, tourism and other emerging sectors from time to time.
- Initially, the NFCS will work in bridging functioning gaps between the various agencies who require climate services.
- These include the hydrological, power, renewable energy, transport, dams and irrigation, health agencies are central, state and other levels.
|The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS):
– Aim: to facilitate researchers and users of climate information and services to join hands in order to make informed and actionable decisions for the long-term betterment.
– Establishment: During the third World Climate Conference held in Geneva in 2009.
– Led by: National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) in respective nations.
– Mandate: to generate high-quality data from national and international databases on temperature, rainfall, wind, soil moisture and ocean conditions and other vital weather parameters.
– The five major components under GFCS:
1. Observations and Monitoring,
3. Modelling and Prediction,
4. Climate Services Information System,
5. User Interface Platform and Capacity Building.
– Priority sectors: agriculture and food security, energy, health, water and disaster risk reduction.
Need of NFCS
- IMD has gained a remarkable hold on providing high-quality weather services for the country and its South Asian neighbours. But, there remain many gap areas across terrains and the seas, wherein no weather data is available.
- There is a lack of long-term (100 years or more) climatological data from the Himalayan regions, the oceans, besides inexistence of radar and satellite-based climatology.
- With NFCS, the Met department aims to strengthen the observational network on land and the seas, improve the data inflow and eventually use it to run weather and climate models for deriving climate predictions.
- Suitable to the user’s needs, the climate data and information products will be tailored and help identify agricultural production, health trends, population distribution in high-risk areas, road and infrastructure mapping for the delivery of goods and other socio-economic variables.
- The framework will support efforts to prepare for new climate conditions and adapt to their impacts on water supplies, health risks, extreme events, farm productivity, infrastructure placement, power and energy generation and others.
- With climate vagaries and extreme events affecting India, and the world, becoming more frequent, the early implementation and acceleration of NFCS will be possible when planned in a mission-mode and is driven by the country’s highest decision-making office.
Digital India Act
Syllabus: GS2/Government Policies and Interventions
- Nations worldwide are grappling with the need to update their legal frameworks to adapt to the evolving digital landscape. India, with its ambitious ‘Digital India’ initiative, is no exception.
- The recent announcement of the Digital India Act 2023 (DIA) represents a significant step towards establishing a future-ready legal framework for the country’s burgeoning digital ecosystem.
- This move by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) signals a proactive approach to regulating and shaping the digital future of the nation.
Digital India Act 2023 (DIA)
- The DIA will replace the Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act).
- The IT Act of 2000, crafted during a time when the internet was in its infancy, has struggled to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology and user behaviour.
- Since its inception, India’s internet user base has exploded from a mere 5.5 million to a staggering 850 million.
- The nature of internet usage has also evolved, with the emergence of various intermediaries and the proliferation of new forms of user harm, such as cyberstalking, trolling, and doxing.
- The DIA recognises these changes and aims to provide a comprehensive legal framework to address them.
- It is designed to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the dramatic growth of the internet and emerging technologies.
- It aims to bring India’s regulatory landscape in sync with the digital revolution of the 21st century.
- The DIA encompasses several pivotal clauses that mirror the dynamic evolution of the digital environment. These provisions underscore the legislation’s responsiveness to the ever-changing digital landscape.
- It places a strong emphasis on online safety and trust, with a commitment to safeguarding citizen’s rights in the digital realm while remaining adaptable to shifting market dynamics and international legal principles.
- Recognising the growing importance of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, the DIA provides guidelines for their responsible utilisation.
- It promotes ethical AI practices, data privacy in blockchain applications, and mechanisms for accountability in the use of these technologies.
- This forward-looking stance is not only beneficial for citizens and businesses but also positions India as a responsible player in the global technology landscape.
- It upholds the concept of an open internet, striking a balance between accessibility and necessary regulations to maintain order and protect users.
- The DIA mandates stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for wearable devices, accompanied by criminal law sanctions.
- Lastly, it contemplates a review of the “safe harbour” principle, which presently shields online platforms from liability related to user-generated content, indicating a potential shift in online accountability standards.
- These provisions underscore the proposed DIA’s commitment in addressing the complexities of the digital age.
While the introduction of the DIA is a commendable step towards addressing the challenges of the digital age, there are certain aspects that warrant a critical evaluation.
- One key concern is the potential impact on innovation and the ease of doing business. Stricter regulations, particularly in emerging technologies, could inadvertently stifle entrepreneurial initiatives and deter foreign investments.
- Additionally, the review of the “safe harbour” principle, could lead to a more cautious approach among these platforms, possibly impinging on freedom of expression.
- Balancing the interests of various stakeholders, including tech giants, while ensuring the protection of citizen rights, poses a significant challenge.
- Furthermore, the DIA’s success hinges on effective enforcement, which will require substantial resources, expertise, and infrastructure.
- While the DIA is a progressive move, its implementation and potential repercussions warrant vigilant monitoring and adaptability to avoid unintended consequences.
- The DIA is a crucial step towards ensuring a secure, accountable, and innovative digital future for India.
- It represents a forward-looking approach to regulation in an age of constant change and has the potential to shape the country’s digital landscape for generations to come.
Aditya-L1 Mission:Trajectory Correction Maneuvre (TCM)
Syllabus :GS 3/Space
- The Aditya-L1 spacecraft performed a 16-second Trajectory Correction Maneuvre (TCM).
About Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM)
- The TCM was performed to correct the trajectory evaluated after tracking the Trans-Lagrangian Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre performed on September 19, 2023.
- The TCM was crucial to ensure that Aditya-L1 stays on course for its intended destination—a Halo orbit insertion around L1.
About Aditya-L1’s mission
- Aditya in Sanskrit means the Sun. L1 here refers to Lagrange Point 1 of the Sun-Earth system.
- It is India’s first solar observatory mission which was launched on September 2 by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- It began after the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 near the Moon’s South pole.
- It carries seven payloads for an in-depth study of the Sun.
- Four payloads will observe solar light, while the other three will measure plasma and magnetic fields in-situ.
- The spacecraft will be placed in a halo orbit around Lagrangian Point 1 (L1), located 1.5 million km from Earth in the direction of the Sun, a journey expected to take four months.
- The primary objectives of India’s solar mission encompass the study of the physics of solar corona and its heating mechanisms, solar wind acceleration, coupling and dynamics of the solar atmosphere, solar wind distribution and temperature anisotropy and origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and solar flares along with their impact on near-Earth space weather.
- Its strategic location at L1 will allow continuous solar observation without interruptions from eclipses or occultation, facilitating real-time study of solar activities and their impact on space weather.
|Do you know ?
– Lagrange points are named in honor of Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange.
– They are positions where the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them.
1. In other words ,They are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two body system like the Sun and the Earth produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
a. These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
– There are five special points where a small mass can orbit in a constant pattern with two larger masses.
1. Of the five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable.
– The unstable Lagrange points – labelled L1, L2 and L3 – lie along the line connecting the two large masses.
– The stable Lagrange points – labeled L4 and L5 – form the apex of two equilateral triangles that have the large masses at their vertices.
– L4 leads the orbit of earth and L5 follows.
- The Army has completed the fourth trance of Emergency Procurements (EP) with over 70 schemes concluded worth nearly ₹11,000 crore.
- Emergency financial powers were granted to the armed forces by the Defence Ministry for the first time after the 2016 Uri terror attack, followed by the 2019 Balakot air strikes and the 2020 standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh.
- Under this, the services could procure weapons systems up to ₹300 crore, on an urgent basis without any further clearance to cut short the procurement cycle.
Emergency Procurement Mechanism
- It is a strategic move that accelerates the acquisition of essential equipment and technology for the defense forces.
- The primary objective of the EP mechanism was to fill critical operational gaps, especially along the Northern Borders.
Efficiency of EP Mechanism
- The EP mechanism has played a crucial role in capital procurement through approximately 140 schemes divided into four tranches (EP I to IV).The initial three tranches saw the Indian Army allocate nearly Rs 7,000 crore for 68 contracts:
- EP-IV, which spanned from September 2022 to September 2023, facilitated more than 70 schemes worth nearly Rs 11,000 crores, breaking down as follows:
- About Rs 1300 crores were spent on weapon systems through 6-7 schemes.
- 9 to 10 schemes received almost Rs 1500 crore for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance.
- Rs 2000 crore was reserved for approximately 10 projects focused on drones and counter-drones.
- Communication and non-communication equipment comprised around a dozen-plus projects, absorbing approximately Rs 1800 crore.
- Lastly, a significant amount of Rs 3100 crore was used for about 25 projects related to survivability and training.
- Major upgrades facilitated through the EP mechanism encompassed remote control weapon systems, air defense missiles, anti-tank missiles, satellite downlink & recording systems, VSAT terminals, portable mobile terminals, secure army mobile systems, all-terrain vehicles, high mobility reconnaissance vehicles, radars, loiter ammunition, drones, counter-drone systems, high endurance UAVs, ballistic helmets, navigation systems and simulation systems.
Significance of EP mechanism
- Promotion of Indigenous Industries: The EP mechanism emphasizes ‘Atma Nirbharta’ or self-reliance. In the first three tranches, 50% of contracts were awarded to domestic industries. EP-IV concluded more than 70 schemes and all contracted with Indian vendors.
- Economic Prudence: The first three tranches of EP resulted in savings of approximately Rs 550 Crore. The fourth phase alone saved around Rs 1500 crore.
- In a world marked by evolving security challenges, India’s commitment to a robust defense framework is essential, and mechanisms like EP exemplify this resolve.
- Through efficient and strategic procurement, India not only strengthens its defense but also contributes to the growth of its domestic defense industry and economic stability.
Facts In News
Syllabus: GS2/ International Relation
- Amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, Hezbollah, lending support to Hamas, is targeting Israeli military positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms area
What is Hezbollah?
- Hezbollah or “Party of God“, was founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
- Its primary objectives were to export Iran’s Islamic Revolution and combat Israeli forces that had invaded Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
- Hezbollah’s influence extends far beyond Lebanon. The group maintains deep ties with other Iran-backed factions in the region, including Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
- Western countries including the United States designate Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
Board Exams Twice a Year
- The Union Education Minister has said that appearing for Class 10 and 12 board examinations twice a year will not be mandatory and the concept is being introduced as an option to reduce student’s stress.
- The National Curriculum Framework 2023 (NCF 2023) has proposed major changes to the CBSE & state board exams in India, starting from 2024. These include:
- Holding board exams twice a year instead of once a year,
- Doing away with the traditional science, commerce, and humanities streams, and
- Specifying how board exams should evolve in the next 10 years, with a focus on making them more competency-based and less focused on rote learning.
- The Ministry of Education in August announced that the board examinations will be held at least twice a year to ensure that students have enough time and opportunity to perform well. They will also get the option to retain the best score.
- Reduce the stress and anxiety: The NCF’s proposal to hold two board exams in a year is a step towards making the assessment process more fair and equitable for all students. It would also reduce the stress and anxiety associated with board exams.
- Choose the subject of interest: By doing away with the traditional streams, students will be free to choose subjects that interest them and that are relevant to their future goals.
- Learning relevant skills: The focus on competency-based assessment will also help to ensure that students are learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life.
IAF Unveils New Ensign
- On the 91st anniversary of the Indian Air Force, a new IAF ensign was unveiled.
- The new IAF ensign was unveiled by the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) at the IAF day parade in Prayagraj.
- This is the first Air Force Day Parade to be commanded by a woman officer, GP Capt. Shaliza Dhami.
- She is also the first woman officer of the IAF to command a combat unit.
- The parade had an all-women contingent comprising the newly inducted Agniveer Vayu women.
- The parade also included a flight of Garud Commandos of the IAF for the first time, as they recently completed 20 years of service.
- The parade was followed by an air display on the banks of the Triveni Sangam.
- It featured about 108 IAF aircraft along with Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters of the Indian Army and a P-8l aircraft of the Indian Navy as well the Surya Kiran and Sarang display teams.
- During the British era: The Indian Air Force was known as the Royal Indian Air Force. Its ensign consisted of the Union Jack in the upper left canton and the RIAF roundel (Red, White & Blue) on the fly side.
- Post-Independence: The Indian Air Force ensign was created by replacing the Union Jack with the Indian tricolor and the RAF roundels with the IAF tri-color roundel in the lower right canton.
- The New Ensign:
- The new ensign includes the Air Force Crest in the top right corner of the Ensign, towards the fly side.
- The IAF Crest has the national symbol, the Ashoka lion on the top with the words “Satyameva Jayate” in Devanagari.
- Below the Ashoka lion is a Himalayan eagle with its wings spread, denoting the fighting qualities of the IAF.
- A ring in light blue color encircles the Himalayan eagle with the words “Indian Air Force”.
- The motto of the IAF “Nabha Sparsham Deeptam” meaning “Touch the sky with glory” is inscribed below the Himalayan eagle in golden Devanagari.
|Indian Air Force (IAF)
– The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932.
– The IAF motto has been taken from the Bhagavad Gita and means “Radiant Thou Touchest Heaven” or “Touching the sky with Glory”.
– It is headquartered in New Delhi. For effective command and control, the IAF has seven commands, under which there are different stations and units located at various places throughout the country.
1. It is divided into five operational and two functional commands.
2. Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal.
– Purpose: The purpose of an operational command is to conduct military operations using aircraft within its area of responsibility, whereas the responsibility of functional commands is to maintain combat readiness.
1. A wing is a formation intermediate between a command and a squadron.
2. It generally consists of two or three IAF squadrons and helicopter units, along with forward base support units (FBSU).
3. FBSUs do not have or host any squadrons or helicopter units but act as transit air bases for routine operations. In times of war, they can become fully-fledged air bases playing host to various squadrons.
– Squadrons and units:
1. Squadrons are the field units and formations attached to static locations. Thus, a flying squadron or unit is a subunit of an air force station that carries out the primary task of the IAF.
2. A fighter squadron consists of 18 aircraft; all fighter squadrons are headed by a commanding officer with the rank of wing commander.
Syllabus: GS-3/International Relations
- The Iron Dome, Israel’s most advanced defense system has come into the limelight due to the recent Palestine and Israel battles.
What is Iron Dome?
- The genesis of the Iron Dome goes back to the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war when Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel.
- The Iron Dome was deployed in 2011.
- It was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
- It is a short-range, ground-to-air, air defense system that includes radar and Tamir interceptor missiles that track and neutralize any rockets or missiles.
- It is used for countering rockets, artillery & mortars (C-RAM) as well as aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
- It is capable of being used in all weather conditions, including during the day and night.
- The defense system has a range of 70 kilometers.
What makes it so effective?
- The Iron Dome has three main systems that work together to provide a shield over the area where it is deployed, handling multiple threats.
- It has a detection and tracking radar to spot any incoming threats, a battle management and weapon control system (BMC), and a missile firing unit.
How does it work?
- Iron Dome consists of a truck that fires radar-guided missiles to counter short-range threats including rockets, mortars, and drones.
- The all-weather system does not shoot down all the rockets on Israel’s radar.
- It uses an Artificial Intelligence mechanism to first determine whether an incoming rocket is an interpreted threat and will hit a populated area, if not the Iron Dome ignores the rocket and lets it enter Israel’s air space.
Other Air Defence Systems
- Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) (US)
- S-400 Air Defence System (Russia)
Asiatic Wild Dog (Dhole)
Syllabus : GS 3/Species in news
- The activity of the Asiatic wild dog in Assam’s Manas National Park showed the highest temporal overlap with the leopard .
About Asiatic Wild Dog (Dhole)
- Physical features : They are large carnivores that resemble a small wolf or a domestic dog in size; however, unlike dogs they have a rust-red to brown coat and the ears are rounded with fur
- Habitat Ecology: They inhabit a variety of habitat types that include primary, secondary and degraded forms of tropical dry and moist deciduous forests, evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, dry-thorn forests, scrublands etc.
- In India, the species inhabits tropical dry and moist deciduous forest supporting adequate prey base
- It is the only endangered wild pack-living canid in the tropical Indian forests.
- Distribution : It has a large distribution range south and central Asia and Russia.
- In India, the species inhabits the southern part of the Indo-Gangetic plains, Eastern and Western Ghats and most parts of North-Eastern India
- It also occurs in some parts of Ladakh and Kashmir.
- Threats : Loss of prey base, habitat loss and transformation
- vulnerable to multiple disease threats from domestic dogs
- Protection status
- IUCN Red list status : Endangered
- It is included in CITES – Appendix II