The escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has prompted Southeast Asian countries to come together to resolve the issue. The conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has escalated dramatically since October 7. Hamas's surprise attack on Israel resulted in more than 1,400 deaths, most of them civilians, and the taking of more than 100 hostages.
Israel responded with massive airstrikes and imposed a siege on Gaza, cutting off access to electricity, water, food, and fuel. The Gaza Health Ministry reported that the death toll from the Israeli offensive had reached 4,137, with more than 13,300 injured and 1,000 still missing.
At the same time, a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza (Church of Saint Pophyriu), which houses hundreds of Palestinian refugees, was also hit by Israeli airstrikes, killing 16 people, according to Palestinian health officials.
In response, leaders of Southeast Asian and Gulf countries called on Israel and Hamas to stop attacks on civilians and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. The call came at the second summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday (Oct. 21). The agreement was also documented in a joint statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
They also called for humanitarian access and the smooth resumption of electricity, water, fuel, food, and medical supplies throughout Gaza. ASEAN and the GCC also stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and abide by international humanitarian law.
Several journalist organizations in Southeast Asia also condemned the unaccountable killing of journalists and civilians and considered it a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions.
The Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) Indonesia, Association Journalists Timor-Leste (ATJL), Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA), Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia, Gerakan Media Merdeka Malaysia (GERAMM), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and Prachatai, Thailand, also called on the UN to launch an immediate investigation into these killings and attacks, and urged the international community to unite in insisting that all use of force cease immediately.
Distribution of Aid from Southeast Asian Countries
Before the intensity of the conflict increased again, countries in the Southeast Asian region had been actively providing material assistance to Palestine. Recently, however, Southeast Asian countries have resumed providing aid to Palestine.
Singapore, for example, will provide humanitarian aid worth S$300,000 or about Rp 3.4 billion through the Singapore Red Crescent. On October 16, the Singapore Red Cross also announced a donation of US$150,000 to be given to both Israel through Magen David Adom and Palestine through the Palestinian Red Crescent.
On the other hand, Malaysia also pledged to provide 1 million ringgit (about Rp 3.3 billion) as an emergency fund for Palestine, while condemning this crisis as a result of oppression and injustice against the Palestinian people.
Brunei has also officially established the Brunei Humanitarian Fund for Gaza 2023 and the Brunei National Committee for the Gaza Humanitarian Fund 2023. The launch ceremony of the Brunei Humanitarian Fund for Gaza 2023 was held on Wednesday (Oct 18), with the aim of providing a means for the public to donate to the fund. The fundraising period will last for three months until January 18, 2024.
Indonesia, through the National Board of Zakat (Badan Amil Zakat Nasional/BAZNAS), is also making efforts to raise humanitarian funds to help the victims of the conflict caused by Israeli attacks in Palestine. Currently, the aid is being channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
BTS fans from Indonesia, known as ARMY Indonesia, have also contributed to the aid for Palestine. ARMY Indonesia has raised more than IDR 1 billion for Palestine. The "BTS Army Indonesia Cares for Palestine" campaign was conducted through the Solusi Peduli platform, with the aid aimed at meeting the basic needs of Palestinians, including food, medicine, and healthcare.
The collection of donations, which was initiated by the army_indonesia Instagram account, reached its goal within four days. On Monday (Oct. 23), the total donation reached Rp 1,023,356,414 from 20,313 donors. The donations were then channeled through the Human Initiative humanitarian agency, with the first phase of aid successfully delivered to the Palestinian people.
To this day, the conflict in Palestine still continues, the death toll continues to rise, and the number of refugees continues to increase. In order to help Palestine, a number of private organizations in different countries have also opened their doors.
We hope that the international community will immediately intervene to find a solution to this conflict in order to bring peace and humanity back to the region.