Gaza-born physician Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who became well-known in Israel during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, is in the country for hearings related to his civil suit against Israel for the deaths of his daughters and niece as well as other members of his family that were caused by the IDF.
During the war, he broadcasted from his home in the Jabalya refugee camp to Channel 10, providing Israeli viewers with a sense of the mood inside the Gaza Strip and what was happening to the population. Toward the end of the conflict, in January 2009, an Israeli tank shell hit his home, killing three of his daughters and a niece and wounding another daughter.
He has many Israeli friends, having completed a residency in OB/Gyn at Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba and, immediately before the war, conducted research at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. There was a huge outpouring of sympathy for him following the tragedy.
Court hearings in the Beersheba District Court have been scheduled for Wednesday and Sunday.
He is asking Israel to acknowledge its responsibility for the killing, formally apologize and compensate his family. If money is awarded, it will be donated to the Daughters for Life Foundation, a registered Canadian charity established in memory of the four slain girls. The foundation promotes education opportunities for women and girls from the Middle East.
Abuelaish claims that there was no fighting next to his former home, and that the nearest clashes were 7 kilometers away. This has been confirmed by an internal IDF investigation, he says. As there was no military target or military advantage to striking his home, he states, the only possible outcome of the tank’s action could amount to harming civilians – a war crime.
Israel says that it bears no responsibility for these incidents, that it is immune to such a lawsuit as the incidents happened at a time of war in which each side is responsible for its own damages, and that it is unacceptable to blame the IDF for harming civilians intentionally, as it is “the most moral army in the world,” states Abuelaish.
The doctor, together with his lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, will hold a press conference at the Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Abuelaish and his remaining children have been living in Canada for the past seven-and-a-half years and now have Canadian citizenship.
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