Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first-ever sitting Indian premier to set foot in Israel. He will be setting a precedent by arriving in the country on July 4 as Israel and India mark a quarter of a century of diplomatic relations, and Israelis can hardly contain their excitement.
In a video produced by the Israeli Embassy in India, Israelis can be seen greeting the Indian premier in Hindu and extending warm wishes ahead of his arrival in the Jewish state. "Namaste, Modi," "I wish you a fruitful visit" and "Welcome to Israel" are all uttered in Modi's own language, and some of the participants in the video can be seen laughing and smiling as they struggle to pronounce the words correctly.
Israel's Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon also recorded his own message in Hindi.
The video was posted on Thursday to the embassy's Twitter page and reached Modi himself. He was moved by the Israeli gesture, and wrote a special thank you tweet that was published on his official handle. "Thank you very much," he wrote in Hindi as a reply.
This is not the only personal interaction that Modi will have with Israelis, as he is expected to hold a very special meeting during his stay in the country. Modi is expected to meet "Baby Moshe,"
the 11-year-old survivor of the Mumbai Massacre that took place in 2008. The 26/11 attacks saw a group of 10 terrorists from the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic militant organization carry out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai.
One of the sites that came under attack was the Mumbai Chabad house. Six people died in the attack, including emissaries Rabbi Gabriel and Rivka Hotlzberg. Their then-toddler Moshe, who was two years old at the time, was rescued by his Indian babysitter who risked her life to save him.
He has since moved to Israel, where he lives with his maternal grandparents. Almost a decade after the attack that claimed his parents' lives, the Indian prime minister will come face to face with the young survivor of this horrendous terror act.
"Prime Minister Modi is expected to meet Moshe. I think it will be a very emotional meeting with a very strong message," Ambassador Carmon said of the upcoming meeting.
Moshe's nanny Sandra who saved him from the attack was honored by the Israeli government with the title of 'Righteous Gentile' and she was also allowed to extend her stay in the country.
Modi will land in Israel on July 4, where he will be received by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Ben-Gurion Airport along with a "top protocol team" that will include 50 Israeli dignitaries and officials in a gesture that is usually reserved for visits of US presidents and the Pope, according to Ambassador Carmon. Israel his treating Modi's visit with "unprecedented importance," Carmon added.
Netanyahu is expected to accompany Modi throughout most of his three-day visit, which the prime minister lauded as an "historic visit to Israel" on his own Twitter handle. Netanyahu announced the visit officially, writing: "Next week, the Indian Prime Minister, my friend, Narenda Modi will arrive in Israel."
In another tweet, the prime minister said that the visit was "a very significant step in strengthening relations between the two countries."
"Ties between Israel & India are on a constant upswing," he added.
The bilateral ties between New Delhi and Jerusalem as well as defense ties and deals concerning water and agriculture will all be discussed during Modi's visit.
The cabinet on Sunday approved a series of measures aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries, include the increase by 25% of Israel's non-diamond related exports to India, which today stand at $1.38 billion, over the next four years.
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