The leader of an Indonesian medical aid group running a hospital that’s been under assault in northern Gaza has called out President Joe Biden over the U.S. government’s refusal to demand a cease-fire.
Israeli forces have been attacking the area around the Indonesian Hospital, which has housed thousands of patients and displaced Palestinians, for weeks. Despite the fighting ― and a shell that struck the hospital’s second floor Monday, killing at least a dozen people ― medical workers have managed to evacuate hundreds of patients south with the help of the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross, according to The Associated Press.
The Indonesian Hospital is run by the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), an Indonesian aid group that helps provide medical services for victims of war. With northern Gaza facing weeks of heavy bombardment from Israeli forces, the hospital ― virtually the last medical institution remaining in the north ― is dealing with an influx of dead and wounded Palestinians, all while operating with little to no fuel, food or water.
Injured Palestinians evacuated from the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip receive care Monday at Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.
Sarbini Abdul Murad, the chief presidium of MER-C, released a searing letter on Tuesday criticizing Biden for the role the United States has taken in assisting Israel in its military strikes on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and the resulting bloodshed. Murad described Israel’s actions as “genocide and ethnic cleansing,” citing the deaths of women, children, infants, disabled people, medics, teachers and elderly people.
“It is very unfortunate that your siding with Israel by facilitating weapons of mass destruction has actually made the conflict even wider. Your action clearly contradicts various international treaties and agreements that are apply to the existence of Palestine,” Murad wrote.
“You have destroyed the international rules of the game, insulted the authority of the UN, torn apart the sense of justice, and hurt human values, and tarnished the face of human civilization,” he said.
A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (right) inspects humanitarian aid provided by the Indonesian government to the Palestinian people before departing Monday from Jakarta, Indonesia.
More than 12,700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The Palestinian death toll was provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank, after the Health Ministry in Gaza said Tuesday that it no longer has the ability to track casualties due to the territory’s collapsing health system.
While the White House still refuses to call for a cease-fire in the region and continues to assist Israel, the president and national security officials started to embrace what they describe as a “humanitarian pause,” in which the fighting in Gaza will temporarily stop to allow for the influx of aid and the safe passage out for civilians.
Medics, aid workers, human rights groups, some world leaders and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have pushed against a humanitarian pause, however, stressing that the only way to stop the mass death and allow Palestinians to stay on their land is to agree to a cease-fire.
“Mr. President, we believe you still have a conscience. Your great country certainly wants to be seen as honorable for its humanitarian defenses. Moreover, your administration has determined to make the principle of multilateralism, justice and human rights the foundation of United States foreign policy,” Murad wrote. “So, actually this is the right [time] to prove it.”
“For the sake of peace and humanity, we demand that you immediately do ceasefire. Restore the dignity of the United States as a country that upholds human rights. The ceasefire must be implemented now, so as not to increase the loss of life on both sides. This all violates the laws, morals and ethics of war, which must be upheld in a civilized world.”