Indonesia strongly condemns Israeli attacks that killed 12 in its hospital in Gaza

Ms Retno and other Muslim and Arab foreign ministers have made China their first stop on a tour to permanent members of the UN Security Council, pushing for an end to the war in Gaza.

Linda Yulisman

Linda Yulisman

The Straits Times


Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi seen in this file picture. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

November 22, 2023

JAKARTA – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has “strongly condemned” Israeli tank attacks on the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza on Nov 20, in which 12 civilians were killed.

“The attack is an obvious breach of international humanitarian law,” Ms Retno said from Beijing. “All countries, especially those with close ties with Israel, must use all their influence and capabilities to urge Israel to end its atrocities.”

She said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had lost contact with three Indonesian volunteers working at the Indonesian hospital after the attack.

The ministry is liaising with related parties, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the World Health Organisation, to monitor the situation in the health facility and ensure the safety of the volunteers.

Ms Retno and other Muslim and Arab foreign ministers have made China their first stop on a tour to permanent members of the UN Security Council, pushing for an end to the war in Gaza.

Eleven patients and a relative of a patient were killed in the attack on the Indonesian Hospital, Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.

Around 700 people, including medical workers and injured people, were inside the hospital, he told Al Jazeera, adding that the situation was “catastrophic”.

The hospital staff insisted on staying to take care of the injured, he said.

Palestine’s Wafa news agency reported that Israeli soldiers shot at everything that moved near the hospital’s entrance.

Israel has alleged that the Indonesian Hospital is used to disguise Hamas’ underground command and control centre.

This has been denied by Palestinian officials, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, and the Indonesian humanitarian organisation, Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), that funds the hospital.

Located in Jabalia in northern Gaza, the Indonesian Hospital was built in 2011 using donations raised by MER-C from the public, including from organisations like the Indonesian Red Cross and major Muslim group Muhammadiyah. With 100 beds and four operating theatres, the hospital began operations in 2016.

The hospital and more than 20 others have been largely affected by an Israeli blockade on fuel, electricity and water entering Gaza, and minimum aid deliveries.

On Nov 16, the Indonesian Hospital stopped its service as it was understaffed and ran out of fuel and supplies amid an influx of patients.

That same day, Israeli soldiers entered Al-Shifa Hospital, the biggest health facility in Gaza, in a ground operation. The Israeli military claimed that Hamas’ headquarters was situated in tunnels beneath the hospital, which the militant group denied.

Ms Retno, along with her counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine, and officials from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Nov 20.

They called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the entry of humanitarian aid into the war-torn territory.

China is assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for November.

Apart from China, the delegation of Arab and Muslim ministers is also set to ask Russia to support the end of Israel hostilities.

More than 13,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli strikes since Oct 7, when Hamas militants invaded Israel and killed around 1,200 and took about 240 people hostage.

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