Jakarta (ANTARA) - Despite Israeli air attacks on Gaza, the Medical Emergency Rescue-Committee (MER-C) volunteers from Indonesia are determined to complete the construction of a hospital in Bayt Lahiya, North Gaza, to help Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression.

Bayt Lahiya is a crowded area and has often suffered Israeli air attacks.

"We plan to finish the Indonesian-funded hospital`s construction by the end of 2013 or in early 2014," said Faried Thalib, the chairman of the hospital`s construction team, at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday (November 19).

The construction work is continuing despite difficulties in getting building materials after the escalation of tension in Gaza, which has been bombed by Israel over the past six days, he explained.

On November 14, an Israeli rocket landed approximately 100 metres away from the hospital, killing a Hamas leader, his bodyguard and a family member.

A total of 28 Indonesian nationals are involved in the construction of the hospital, which will be called "Indonesia Hospital".

They are enduring Israeli air strikes, rockets, bombings, and embargoes while trying to complete their noble humanitarian mission in order to provide the people of Gaza with medical services.

However, due to the ongoing Israeli attacks, the hospital`s construction needs to be halted from time to time.

"After the bombing, the MER-C volunteers, all Indonesian nationals, were instructed to take shelter at the hospital`s basement which is 50 percent ready," Faried said.

Abdillah Onim, the team leader of the Indonesian volunteers in Gaza, told the press recently that the volunteers are often `unable to go anywhere`.

Some have to stay at home and be safe, while the other volunteers from MER-C Indonesia have decided to stay at the hospital to protect the nearly finished building, he explained.

The hospital is now fully closed and protected by the Indonesian volunteers in order to prevent any Palestinian fighters from using the premises to launch a rocket, which could trigger a retaliatory attack from Israel.

"The Israelis have bombed everywhere along the Gaza Strip, so it is impossible for us to move from here," Onim stated.

"We request the people to pray for us because the attacks are still on," he added.

Meanwhile, on November 19, Al Fatah Islamic boarding school chairman Muhyiddin Hamidy in Jakarta told the media that the 28 Indonesian volunteers remained calm in the face of bombings taking place just 100 metres away from the hospital.

"They want to continue being involved in the hospital`s construction because for them it`s a sacred mission," he explained.

"The volunteers` families in Indonesia are very proud of them because they are carrying out a noble task in Gaza," Hamidy added.

The Rp30-billion (US$3 million) Indonesia Hospital is being constructed at the initiative of MER-C Indonesia and the Palestinian government.

MER-C chief president Sarbini Abdul Murad told the Indonesian press recently that his NGO would furnish the nearly completed building before installing the German-made medical equipment.

The main objective of the establishment of the hospital is to treat and rehabilitate trauma patients, as well as provide first aid and care for those living in the Gaza strip, he said.

The hospital, whose construction began last year on the 9,000 square-metres of land donated by the Palestinian Authority, is situated only 3 kilometres away from the Israeli border.

MER-C collected money from the Indonesian people to finance the hospital`s construction.

The two-storey hospital, designed by Indonesian architects, will have 100 beds and will be staffed primarily by Palestinians, with a few Indonesian volunteers. It will also have five operation rooms with 10 beds.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), Dr Jose Rizal Jurnalis, expressed hope that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would visit North Gaza.

"In the past, during a time of conflict, the then president Suharto had visited Bosnia. Now, we hope President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would visit Gaza," he said at a press conference held in Jakarta on November 19.

"The President`s visit to Gaza would help strengthen our relationship with Palestine. Israel knows it very well that Indonesia is the world`s largest Muslim country," Jurnalis added.

The plan to build the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza had been announced by President Yudhoyono at a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta in May 2010.

The President had said Indonesia was ready to provide any kind of humanitarian aid needed by Palestine.

"We will build a hospital worth Rp20 billion in Gaza, in the hope it will increase public health facilities in Gaza," he stated.

This Wednesday, the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I announced that it would soon send a delegation to Gaza in order to provide moral and political support to Palestine.

"The delegation will meet with members of the Palestinian parliament in Amman, Jordan, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank," the Indonesian parliament said in a press statement.

"The visit is important to prevent a war that could break out any time and to help build world peace," it added.

Besides, the visit is in line with Indonesia`s Constitution, which has mandated that the country help occupied nations gain freedom.

The Indonesian legislators will also bring along a humanitarian mission to Gaza, where 141 people, including women and babies, were killed and over 900 others injured during the ongoing Israeli aggression over the past one week.

According to Wikipedia data, a total of 1,380 Palestinians were killed and 5,380 wounded, during the Israeli air strikes on Gaza from December 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009. Most of the victims were children and women. ***3***

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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