Reacting to nationwide rallies condemning the Israeli military for laying siege to Gaza and the West Bank, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has recruited 60 Muslim youths from Jember regency to dispatch as volunteers to fight the Israeli army in Palestine.
"If Muslims are injured and killed it must be revenged. We must help our brothers suffering grievance in the Israeli aggression," chairman of the East Java chapter of FPI Habib Haidar Al Hamid said in his speech to rally volunteers in Jember on Monday.
He said his organisation had recruited to the cause 60 of the 120 young Muslims that had signed a solidarity for Palestine petition.
They are now undergoing what he called "advance training" at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Sumberbaru district having cleared health and performance tests.
Haidar said the volunteers would be deployed as mujahidins and soldiers in the front lines in Gaza to fight Israeli soldiers.
"The haves can donate a part of their wealth but we have only our bodies with which to wage a holy war against the Jewish country," he said.
The chief of the FPI in Jember, Mukmin, who is also director of the pesantren, said a holy war must be volunteer-based. He said it was assumed that all those who joined had secured permission from their families.
When asked by The Jakarta Post if they had permission, the volunteers replied they had, and added that they were ready to die for their Palestinian brothers.
"If you are permitted, go wage the holy war in the path of God," Mukmin told them.
Even if they somehow managed to get into Palestine to fight the Israeli army they would come face to face with some of the most advanced weaponry on the planet, the volunteers will only undergo brief self-defense training locally known as pencak silat (a traditional martial art) before they are dispatched.
The volunteer recruitment has sparked strong widespread criticism, with many saying the would-be soldiers are ill-equipped, unprofessional and may not have any means to communicate on the ground or to endure the weather in the Middle Eastern region.
Such failures were evident last century when equally unprepared Indonesian volunteers were dispatched to Afghanistan to wage holy war.
Recalling the days when Indonesian people drove off the Dutch colonial government with bamboo spears, Hamid said he was optimistic the volunteers would win the war in Gaza and rid the land of Israeli soldiers.