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Indonesian president: Immediately resolve Palestine-Israel conflict according to UN-agreed parameters

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Nazarudin Latif 2023.10.1

Smoke rises after Israeli strikes on the seaport of Gaza City, in Gaza, Oct. 10, 2023.

Smoke rises after Israeli strikes on the seaport of Gaza City, in Gaza, Oct. 10, 2023.

[Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

UPDATED at 10:48 a.m. EDT on 2023-10-11

As fighting raged for another day in a new war in the Middle East, Indonesia’s president said Tuesday that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be resolved according to United Nations-agreed parameters on “Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.”

In his first public comments since Hamas fighters struck Israel on Saturday and the Israeli military hit back hard, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, leader of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, urged an end to the bloodshed.

“Indonesia calls for the war and violence be stopped immediately to avoid further human casualties and destruction of property because the escalation of the conflict can cause greater humanitarian impact,” Jokowi said in a statement.

“The root cause of the conflict, which is the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, must be resolved immediately in accordance with the parameters that have been agreed upon by the U.N.”

Indonesia staunchly supports the Palestinian cause and does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

On Tuesday, Israel intensified its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, where more than 2 million Palestinians live, and threatened to inflict a heavy toll on Hamas, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Hamas fighters had launched a surprise attack on Saturday from Gaza, using drones, rockets, missiles and assault weapons to breach the border fence and infiltrate towns in southern Israel.

Jokowi said his government was working to protect Indonesian citizens in Palestinian territories, especially 10 in Gaza. The foreign ministry said there were 275 Indonesians in Israel and Palestinian areas, with most of them there for religious purposes.

The Indonesian government has prepared a contingency plan to evacuate its citizens from the region in coordination with various parties through its embassies in Amman, Beirut and Cairo, the foreign ministry said.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) speaks with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, May 11, 2023. [Willy Kurniawan/Pool/AFP]
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had been in touch with several countries and international organizations to seek an end to the violence, ministry spokesman Lalu Muhammad Iqbal said.

“The focus of the Indonesian government at the moment is the humanitarian situation, especially how to push for efforts to stop the escalation of violence and avoid more civilian casualties,” Iqbal told reporters.

In neighboring Malaysia on Tuesday, the country’s football association said that the Palestinian football team had withdrawn from a tournament in the Southeast Asian nation because of the “tense situation” in Gaza.

Separately, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said late Monday that he had discussed Palestine-Israel developments with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Also on Monday, the Malaysian government announced it would allocate 1 million ringgit (U.S. $211,423) in humanitarian aid for Palestinians.

The war has already left at least 1,600 people dead on both sides – possibly many more – according to AP. Israel has also said that Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza had taken more than 150 soldiers and civilians captive.

The conflict is likely to worsen in the coming days. Israel increased the number of reservists to 360,000 on Tuesday, and there were reports that the military might launch a ground assault into Gaza.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres had strong words for both Hamas and Israel as he condemned what he called “the abhorrent attacks by Hamas and others against Israeli towns and villages in the Gaza periphery.”

“This most recent violence does not come in a vacuum. The reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year long occupation and no political end in sight,” the U.N. chief said in remarks to the press.

“It’s time to end this vicious circle of bloodshed, hatred and polarization.”

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Women mourn during the funeral of Palestinians killed in overnight Israeli shelling in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 10, 2023. [Said Khatib/AFP]
Evacuation of Thais begins Wednesday

Meanwhile, six more Thai citizens were confirmed killed in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas, taking the death toll of Thais in the conflict to 18, Kanchana Patarachoke, a Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters.

Nine Thais were reported injured with 11 said to be abducted, she added.

“The fighting continues in Israel, particularly around the Gaza Strip. Both sides clashed as the Israelis had been attempting to regain control, cutting power grids and water supplies,” Kanchana said.

“Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv came under attacks, while the Israelis launched offensives into Palestine.”

On Monday, the deputy Thai foreign minister said he had asked Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to help release the Thai hostages.

“As far as we discussed with partners, Hamas would not harm foreigners because they are not involved [in the disputes] and it does not want to expand the disputes,” Kanchana said, referring to other agencies the Thai government is coordinating with.

More than 4,533 Thais were working in areas of southern Israel close to the Gaza Strip as of August, according to the Thai Ministry of Labor. There are about 30,000 Thais working throughout Israel, according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Kanchana said that 3,226 had signed up to return home after the fighting broke out Saturday.

The first group of 15 evacuees was expected to leave Israel on Wednesday via an Israeli commercial flight and arrive in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok a day later. Another group of 80 Thais is expected to be evacuated on Oct. 18, Kanchana said.

An Israeli firefighter kneels to recompose himself after he and his colleagues extinguished cars set on fire by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. [Ohad Zwigenberg/AP]
In the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday that the safety of the more than 30,000 Filipinos living and working in Israel remains a priority for the government.

There are approximately 40,000 Filipinos in Israel, but only 25,000 are legally documented, according to labor and migrant groups.

The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv said that six Filipinos were still missing – two men and four women – while one remains in hospital being treated for moderate injuries sustained during the rescue operation.

“Coordinating with Israeli authorities and local contacts, the embassy is exhausting all available means to ascertain the condition of the still missing Filipinos,” the embassy said.

The situation is expected to only get worse, said Manoch Aree, an assistant professor at Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok.

“Today’s troubles do not lie only on Israel and Palestine but their respective allies – making the situation uncertain,” he said.

“Following the aerial bombardment, I believe the ground troops will move in, unless they change their mind. If Israel eventually occupies the Gaza Strip, Palestine’s allies may likely join the war.”

Tria Dianti and Pizaro Gozali Idrus in Jakarta, Nontarat Phaicharoen in Bangkok, and BenarNews staff in Manila contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly reported that more than 4,533 Thais were working in Israel as of August 2023.

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