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Palestinians hope Indonesian support remains alive

Jakarta Post - June 5, 2024

Salman M. Vermonte, Jakarta – Among the pro-Palestine protesters who flocked to the United States embassy in Jakarta over the weekend was Mahmoud A., a Palestinian citizen who has lived in Indonesia for the past twelve years.

He took part in the demonstration with mixed feelings of anger and gratitude; not a single day passes without the death of his people, and now Indonesians are joining forces to demand a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

"Every day, we see a real genocide in Gaza. There is no safe zone there. What is happening now is the real reaction from the people, from Indonesians," Mahmoud said on the sidelines of the protest on Saturday.

He hoped the support would remain alive until justice was served for the Palestinians.

"Thank God a lot of people came to the protest. If Indonesia does not have this continuous support for Palestine, the issue will die," Mahmoud went on.

Draped in kaffiyeh, a traditional head scarf worn in Palestine, flocks of Indonesians expressed their exasperation in a two-day protest in front of the US embassy building. Since Indonesia lacks official diplomatic relations with Israel, many chose to channel their outrage toward its key ally.

Nearing eight months since Hamas' Oct. 7, 2023, attack against Israel, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 35,000, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Mahmoud said the US was heavily responsible for the rising civilian death toll: "The problem is always the US. If there is no US, there is no Israel. [...] This genocide has lasted 238 days all because of the US. The drones and the bullets [used to attack Palestine] are all them. If the US cuts its support, this genocide will stop."

Palestinian citizen Mahmoud A. stands in front of the United States Embassy in Jakarta on May 31, 2024, during a pro-Palestinian protest.

Israel's recent move to bombard the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing, a critical entry point for humanitarian aid and host to over a million Palestinians, has again caused a global outcry.

An AI-generated image bearing the words "All eyes on Rafah" has been shared millions of times on Instagram since Israel launched a deadly strike on a camp in Rafah last week.

The image depicts densely packed rows of tents stretching endlessly across a desert landscape overshadowed by mountains, a reference to the countless Palestinians who fled during Israel's retaliation against Hamas.

Rowan Katba, a Palestinian citizen born and raised in Gaza and currently residing in Lyon, France, criticized the image, saying she was "conflicted".

The 27-year-old has been confronted directly by the war, as most of her family is still in Gaza.

"My uncles have not yet been able to evacuate because they have a lot of kids and it was very expensive to register for travel, and right now it is not even possible to leave as the crossing is completely blocked," she said.

In the past weeks, the Katba family has lost a 1-year-old child in Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza, as a result of illness and starvation. Rowan told The Jakarta Post that the infant's "body was just not able to support the malnutrition, disease, lack of medication and the contaminated water".

She said AI-generated images shared online distorted the reality of the conflict.

"It made me really sad because people would rather not be confronted with the discomfort of the reality of the situation [...] Lots of people have seen the very real and horrific image of this child who was burned to death and had his head decapitated. 'All Eyes on Rafah' is an ironic message when the images being shared are AI generated. Their eyes are not really on Rafah."

Rowan further said that the image had a very passive tone and that the viral Instagram story that accompanied it did not really teach anyone anything about what was actually happening.

"There are very real journalists, real citizens, on the ground risking their lives to share real images of this genocide," she added.

However, she acknowledged that the online movement had reestablished a certain momentum and that people were taking to the streets again in Lyon as well.

Source: https://asianews.network/palestinians-hope-indonesian-support-remains-alive