Collapsed ceilings in one of the wings of the Indonesia Hospital in Gaza are seen in this photo taken on Nov. 1, 2023. The hospital suffered damage from an Israeli attack on Oct. 25, causing a power and internet blackout that meant hospital workers lost contact with Jakarta for 40 hours. (-/Courtesy of MER-C)
The Jakarta Post) Jakarta
● Thu, November 9, 2023
Versi Bahasa Indonesia
The Foreign Ministry publicly defended on Monday the Indonesia Hospital in Gaza from Israeli allegations linking the privately funded health facility to Hamas, a group that launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. It was the correct decision of the ministry, although a bit too late.
In a press briefing with foreign reporters, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday the Indonesia Hospital had been built by Hamas “on a site that sat on top of a network of Hamas tunnels, to conceal the underground fortifications”.
“Hamas systematically built the Indonesia Hospital to disguise its underground terror infrastructure,” Hagari said.
We support Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi’s move to jump to the defense of the hospital, due to the humanitarian work it has been conducting in Gaza. The hospital was initially built using a crowd-funding scheme, the private sector then participated in constructing the hospital as proof of Indonesia’s real contribution to the Palestinian people.
Indonesia has consistently thrown its weight behind the Palestinian people’s struggle for independence under a two-state solution.
“The Indonesia Hospital in Gaza is a facility built by Indonesians fully for humanitarian purposes and to serve the medical needs of Palestinians in Gaza,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday. The Palestinian authorities run the hospital with the help of several Indonesian volunteers.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread perception of reluctance by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration to recognize the hospital’s contribution, perhaps because the organization behind it, the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), is not a supporter of the government.
The government’s lack of acknowledgement of the hospital’s humanitarian work will only undermine Indonesia’s foreign policy, given the fact that the government needs assistance from the private sector, society and individuals in fulfilling its international obligations.
Since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, to which Israel immediately responded with a large-scale military operation, the Indonesia Hospital has come into the international media’s spotlight. It has been covered by prominent TV channels such as CNN, the BBC and Al-Jazeera, as well as global news agencies like Reuters, AFP, AP and Bloomberg.
The Indonesian people should be proud of the humanitarian work of the hospital, and the sacrifice of its medical workers and volunteers. Several days ago a Palestinian doctor who graduated from the March 11 State University (UNS) in Surakarta, Central Java, reportedly died during an Israel airstrike on the hospital Indonesia is not a rich nation, but a group like MER-C managed to really contribute to the well-being of the Palestinians amid the severe lack of health facilities in Gaza, even before the war began. Non-state actors can complement and support the country’s diplomacy and in demanding justice for the Palestinians and an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of their territory.
Indonesia’s contribution to Palestine, including the development aid worth US$7 million delivered a few years ago, could hardly rival that of oil-rich Arab countries. But we can be proud of our unwavering support for Palestine, while some Arab nations have decided to open diplomatic ties with Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.
The Indonesia Hospital in Gaza is evidence of Indonesia’s consistent defense of the rights of the Palestinian people. The health facility is located in Jabaliya and serves about 500,000 residents. MER-C raised $9 million from the Indonesian public to build the hospital in 2011.
Gaza authorities donated 16,000 square meters of land for the hospital and pays the salaries of about 400 medical workers there.
MER-C has continued to supply medical needs for the hospital. Before the war, it treated more than 250 patients every day.
Then vice president Jusuf Kalla inaugurated the hospital in 2016, and described the hospital as a “symbol of cooperation” between the two nations.
MER-C and other non-state actors deserve the credit for their great work in Palestine. We hope the collaboration between the government and non-state humanitarian groups continues to flourish for the good of Indonesia and Palestine.