Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week compared his army’s “surgical strikes” against Pakistani rebels during a recent offensive in the disputed Kashmir region to the operations of the Israeli military.
“Our army’s valor is being discussed across the country these days. We used to hear earlier that Israel has done this. The nation has seen that Indian army is no less than anybody,” Modi said at a military rally Tuesday, according to Indian news reports.
The prime minister’s remarks came a week after government forces killed two suspected Pakistani rebels holed up inside a government compound the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir in a fierce three-day standoff.
Kashmir is experiencing its largest protests against Indian rule in recent years, sparked by the killing in July of a popular rebel commander by Indian soldiers.
More than 80 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, with hundreds among them blinded and maimed, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotgun pellets at rock-throwing protesters.
Rebel attacks on government forces have also increased in recent weeks. On Saturday militants attacked a police post in the southern Kashmir valley, killing one officer.
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Most people in the Indian-controlled portion favor independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have made bilateral cooperation key points for their respective foreign policies.
Since 1999 India has become the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment.
In October 2014, India agreed to a $525 million deal to buy Israel’s guided Spike missiles, which were widely used by the IDF during that summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
Agencies contributed to this report.