Monday, June 21, 2010

Indonesia Builds Rp 20 Billion Hospital in Gaza

In a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jakarta recently, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke of Indonesia’s plan to construct a hospital in Gaza, Palestine.

"We will build a hospital in Gaza worth Rp20 billion in the hope it will increase public health facilities in Gaza," the President said at the Merdeka Palace, last May 29, when speaking at a joint press conference after meeting with visiting Mahmoud Abbas.

A staunch supporter of Palestine, Indonesia was also ready to give any kind of humanitarian aid needed by Palestine and to continue to contribute to the development of capacity for the establishment of a free Palestinian state as it had been doing so far through a forum of Asian-African countries, Yudhoyono said.

To follow up the plan, an Indonesian delegation consisting of among others House Speaker Marzuki Alie, a number of Indonesian members of parliament (DPR), and Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono, will visit Gaza, on June 30.

"Until now, the visit has been scheduled. Members of the DPR’s Commission I have obtained permission from the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, who will also join the MPs, and so the House Speaker, too," Hidayat Nur Wahid, chairman of the DPR’s Inter-parliamentarian Cooperation Board, confirmed here, Wednesday (June 16).

They are expected to witness the laying of the first corner stone marking the beginning of the hospital construction on a 1.5 hectare-plot of land in Gaza.

"The visit is also part of the DPR’s task regarding international relations, and is also meant to deliver assistance collected from the Indonesian people for Gaza," he said.

Earlier this month, Dino Patti Djalal, a presidential spokesman said that the Indonesian government will join other countries in ensuring that humanitarian aid sent through the freedom flotilla mission will reach the Gaza Strip.

"It is true (we will join the effort). That has become the mandate of the UN that the aid must reach Gaza," Dino Patti Djalal said at the presidential office on June 4.

In principle, the aid must reach Gaza by whatever means, he said. On May 31, Israeli troops attacked humanitarian aid carrying ship Mavi Mamara that was attempting to break the Israeli blockade in the waters en route to Gaza.

Reports from various sources said nine people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the attack. A total of 12 Indonesians joined the group, and two of them sustained gunshot woudns during the Israeli attack. Indonesia’s MER-C (Medical Emergency Rescue Committee) had sent four volunteers to join the flotilla, namely Nurfitri Taher (Upi), a Mer-C project officer, Arief Rahman, a medical doctor, Nur Ikhwan Abadi, a mechanic, and Abdillah Onim, a non-medical worker.

In Gaza, they would carry out certain assignments related to Indonesia’s plan to build a hospital in Gaza. Besides, MER-C, other Indonesian NGOs that had sent volunteers to join the humanitarian mission to Gaza are KISPA (Indonesian Committee for Palestinian Solidarity) and "Friends of Al-Aqsa".

Dr. Joserizal Jurnalis, a MER-C presidium member who had visited Palestine several times to give emergency medical treatments to victims of Israeli atrocities, said some Rp15 billion has been collected from the Indonesian people to help finance the hospital.

"I hope that the President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) will inaugurate it," Dr Joserizal Jurnalis said after attending a hearing with some legislators at the Parliament Building, last June 9, 2010.

He once told a television journalist that the planned hospital to be located at Bayt Lahiya, north Gaza, will most likely be named "Hospital Indonesia".
MER-C, the health ministry, the state secretariat and the foreign affairs ministry have held several meetings to discuss the planned construction of the hospital, first initiated in 2008.

Indonesia had earlier sent a number of ambulances, medical equipment and medicines for Gaza civilians. Meanwhile, "Dhompet Dhuafa" (DD) national charity institution has announced its plan to build artesian wells and clean water installations for the Gazans to get clean water.

"Now the people of Gaza are suffering under the pressure of Israel. Their clean water supply comes from Israel," DD Program Director Arifin Purwakananta said in Jakarta early June.

Gaza residents are in constant fear that their clean water supply will be stopped any time by Israel or be poisoned, he said. DD plans to make five to ten artesian wells and clean water installations to meet the Gaza people’s need for clean water, he added.

In an article entitled "More Than Just A Massacre" published by Australia’s ABC on its website, Michael Brull wrote that the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla was bringing water filtration equipment to Gaza.

"The reason it chose to do so was because there is virtually no clean drinking water in Gaza. Partially due to the damage done to greenhouses during Israel’s attacks on Gaza from 2008-2009, Gaza’s water supply system was reported to be on the verge of collapse in September last year. There was an urgent need to find clean drinking water, because, as Amnesty International had pointed out, some 90-95 percent of water in Gaza was not fit for drinking," he further wrote.

Kate Allen, head of Amnesty International UK said , "Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is preventing the importation of urgently-needed materials to repair water and sewage treatment works."

As noted in the Ha’aretz report, the unclean drinking water had caused respiratory and intestinal problems to babies in Gaza, wrote Michael Brull, who has a featured blog at Independent Australian Jewish Voices. The people of Gaza have been on a diet for years. They have lost weight. Their children’s growth has been stunted, and their babies have suffered anaemia.

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