Grand Mufti of Palestine, Sheikh Muhammad Amin al-Husaini, with Muhammad Ali Taher and
Indonesians in Cairo. (Image credits: Indonesian Ministry of Information)
"Until the independence of the Palestinian nation is rightfully granted to its people, Indonesia will persist in challenging the oppressive presence of Israeli occupation."
— President Soekarno, 1962.
On the 120th day of the ongoing genocide, let us reflect on the historical ties binding Indonesia and Palestine. This enduring connection, born out of shared struggles and strength, traces its roots to a critical chapter that shaped the destiny of Indonesia.
At the core of this lasting alliance is Sheikh Muhammad Amin al-Husaini, a Mufti (a legitimate religious authority of the Islamic community) of Jerusalem under the British Mandate in Palestine and a key figure whose steadfast support played a crucial role in Indonesia's fight for independence. Via Radio Berlin, Germany, Sheikh Muhammad Amin Al Husaini expressed his congratulations over Indonesia's independence on September 6, 1944, preceding President Soekarno's official proclamation on August 17, 1945, making Palestine the first nation to acknowledge the independence of Indonesia.
This historic moment laid the foundation for an enduring bond between the two nations. The impact of this endorsement reverberated across the Middle East, influencing multiple countries within the region to show their support for an independent Indonesia.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the bond forged in those early years remains resolute. Indonesia steadfastly withholds recognition of the State of Israel until a comprehensive peace agreement is achieved. This commitment is further substantiated through the establishment of a Palestinian embassy in Jakarta and the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza.
The Indonesian Hospital, built on a 16,000-square-meter plot donated by the Gaza government, symbolizes the resilience and power of people-to-people support. With a cost of Rp 126 billion, funding was sourced from donations by the Indonesian public and organizations such as Palang Merah Indonesia and Muhammadiyah, channeled through the Indonesian humanitarian organization, Medical Emergency Rescue Committee.
Tragically, this humanitarian mission and beacon of hope became a target during Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2023. On November 20, 2023, the Israeli Defense Forces besieged and surrounded the hospital, leveling accusations of it being a Hamas base, an allegation never substantiated.
Indonesia's response was prompt and unwavering. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi issued a stern condemnation, invoking the protection guaranteed to health facilities and medics under international humanitarian law. The assaults on the hospital were a serious breach, consistent with Indonesia's constitutional stance against colonialism and endorsement of the Geneva Convention’s Protocol I. This protocol calls for protection of civilians, as well as military and civilian medical personnel, in international armed conflicts—something Israel has repeatedly ignored.
As we navigate through these historical accounts, it becomes clear that the ties between Indonesia and Palestine are deeper than just diplomatic. The Indonesian Hospital, despite Israel’s attacks, is a testament to the enduring spirit of friendship and humanity that knows no boundaries. Indonesia's unwavering commitment to standing with Palestine underscores the nation's dedication to justice and humanity, echoing sentiments enshrined in its constitutional mandate.
"Whereas Independence is the inalienable right of all nations; therefore, colonialism must be abolished in the world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice," a guiding principle in Indonesia's constitution, illuminates the nation's stance against colonialism. In a world marked by conflicts, the Indonesia-Palestine relationship emerges as a beacon of solidarity, reminding us of the enduring power of shared history and collective determination. May Palestine achieve the independence rightfully theirs, much like the role they played in securing our own freedom. We are not free until Palestine is free.