IDF says Hamas using Indonesian Hospital to hide terror base; Jakarta pushes back

Indonesian charity accuses Israel of seeking pretext to attack medical center after army presents evidence that building was constructed above tunnels and next to rocket launchpad

Palestinians stand outside the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on January 13, 2016. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Palestinians stand outside the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on January 13, 2016. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia on Tuesday denied an Israeli claim that a hospital built in Gaza using Indonesian funding sits atop a network of Hamas tunnels and is located near a launchpad for rocket attacks.

The hospital, situated in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, was built using Indonesian charity funds. It opened its doors in 2015.

“The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza is a facility built by the Indonesian people entirely for humanitarian purposes and to serve the medical needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Indonesia’s foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The statement came a day after Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the Indonesian Hospital had been built by Hamas on a site that sat on top of a network of Hamas tunnels, in order to conceal the underground fortifications.

“Hamas systematically built the Indonesian Hospital to disguise its underground terror infrastructure,” he said in a briefing with foreign reporters.

He also said Hamas was using a nearby area as a base to launch rockets into Israel, pointing to what he said was aerial imagery showing rocket launchers a few dozen meters from the complex.

Iqbal refuted the claims about the hospital, which, like other medical centers in war-ravaged Gaza, is currently treating patients far beyond its capacity.

The Indonesian charity that operates the hospital, MER-C, also denied the facility was used by Hamas.

“What Israel accused us of can be a precondition for them to launch an attack at the Indonesian hospital in Gaza,” MER-C chief Sarbini Abdul Murad said in Jakarta on Monday.

The “IDF’s accusation is a precondition to justify attacks against us, therefore we need to debunk it,” Murad added.

Israeli has repeatedly presented evidence to show that hospitals and other civilian infrastructure are being used by Hamas operatives to shield them from Israeli strikes.

This infographic released by the IDF on November 5, 2023, shows a tunnel underneath the Indonesian Hospital in the Gaza Strip, as well as a nearby rocket launcher. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has been engaged in a war against Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, for the last month since the October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

On the morning of October 7, some 3,000 Hamas terrorists crossed the Gaza border into Israel, massacring 1,400 people and taking at least 240 hostages. The onslaught was conducted under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli cities and towns.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from Gaza, where the group has ruled since 2007, and to destroy its infrastructure. The IDF has been targeting all areas where Hamas operates, and in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties, it has repeatedly urged Gazans to evacuate the northern part of the enclave, where the bulk of the fighting is taking place.

A handout photo shows IDF forces operating in the Gaza Strip, in pictures distributed on November 5, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 10,000 people have been killed since October 7, 4,000 of them children. However, this number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include members of Hamas and other terror groups fighting Israel, as well as civilians killed by the group’s own misfired rockets that fell within the Strip.

The case of the Indonesian Hospital is not the first time that the IDF has revealed evidence that Hamas uses hospitals and medical centers as an operational hub.

On October 27, the IDF presented photographic and audio evidence that Hamas operatives were using Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as their main operational base.

Hamas falsely blamed a blast at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on October 17 on Israel. Evidence gathered by Israel, the United States, and news agencies showed that it was caused by a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: