The Israeli military has accused the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza of being used by Hamas to launch an attack, but the nongovernmental organization that funds the facility’s infrastructure rejected this accusation, stating that Tel Aviv has been crafting a public lie to justify an attack on the hospital.
The Indonesia Hospital in Beit Lahiya was opened in 2015, built from donations raised by the Jakarta-based Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, or MER-C. The NGO also dispatches Indonesian volunteers, three of whom have been at the hospital since Israel’s deadly onslaught in Gaza last month.
The facility is one of the last remaining hospitals on the strip, which has treated over 3,500 Palestinian civilians as Israel continues its daily bombardment of the densely populated enclave in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas.
The Israel Defense Forces has accused Hamas of using hospitals in Gaza as bases of operation. The group is using the Indonesian hospital “to hide an underground command and control center,” IDF’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said on Sunday.
MER-C, which was involved in the construction of the hospital since 2011, has rejected those allegations.
“On several occasions, Israel has tried to craft a public lie to make it seem as if the Indonesia Hospital has a bunker to store fuel reserves. We all know that the IDF has released (statements) claiming that the Indonesia Hospital is doing things that Israel deemed wrong. For that reason, we reject all of it on this occasion,” Sarbini Murad, chairman of MER-C’s executive committee in Jakarta, told reporters in the Indonesian capital on Monday.
“We built the Indonesia Hospital in a professional context and according to what is needed by the people of Gaza at the time and right now. The accusations may be Israel’s precondition to attack the Indonesia Hospital in Gaza.”
He appealed to the international community to keep hospitals safe and said that such establishments are protected under international law.
“We call on the public to condemn Israel so they do not commit brutal acts against the Indonesian hospital,” Murad said.
Henry Hidayatullah, who also chairs MER-C’s executive committee, said “there were never any tunnels” connecting the Indonesian hospital with any other parts of the city.
“From the very beginning, this hospital was designed … for the use of medical patients and had no other function but to serve purely as a hospital,” he said.
More than 9,700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since last month. Israeli airstrikes have hit hospitals, ambulances, schools and refugee camps, as Tel Aviv cut off food, fuel, water and power supplies to the enclave.