JAKARTA: Indonesian volunteers in the Gaza Strip will remain on duty to provide emergency medical support, their NGO said on Tuesday, as Israeli airstrikes continued pounding the densely populated Palestinian territory.
Israeli jets have bombarded the narrow coastal strip since last weekend, following an attack by Gaza-based Palestinian group Hamas. The airstrikes have hit residential buildings, hospitals and places of worship, leaving the 2.3 million inhabitants of the besieged enclave with nowhere to hide.
Remaining medical facilities were left overwhelmed as the bombardment continued on Tuesday, prompting Indonesian NGO Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, or MER-C, which runs a hospital in Gaza, to keep its staff on the ground and prepare to send more volunteers to help.
“(They) will stay in Gaza to provide emergency support at this crucial time ... they are not only MER-C volunteers, but also representatives of the Indonesian people to Palestine to provide help where it is needed by the Palestinians,” Sarbini Abdul Murad, chairman of MER-C’s executive committee, told reporters in Jakarta.
“The main goal of the team is to convey the support of the Indonesian people through medical and humanitarian help.”
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is a staunch supporter of Palestine, and its people and authorities see Palestinian statehood as mandated by their own constitution, which calls for the abolition of colonialism.
The Indonesia Hospital, located just outside Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp, was established by MER-C in 2015 using donations from Indonesian citizens.
As of Monday, the hospital was already over capacity and even its morgue lacked the space to handle the bodies of new airstrike victims due to “a surge of casualties from Israeli attacks,” Murad said.
MER-C officials were coordinating with the Indonesian government to dispatch more volunteers under its humanitarian diplomacy framework.
Indonesia also joined widespread calls for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, as Gaza’s under-equipped hospitals scrambled to treat the wounded.
“The current focus of the Indonesian government is on the humanitarian situation, particularly pushing for efforts to cease the escalation of violence and avoid more civilian casualties,” Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters.
“The Indonesian Foreign Minister continues to communicate with a number of countries and international organizations in working towards a cessation of violence.”