Gaza Again Under Israeli Attacks

Due to increased violent and deadly Israeli attacks on Gaza below an overview of updates with related news which will be continuously updated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

GAZA ATTACK March 22, 2011

Overview of Related News: http://wp.me/p16sn9-4BK
Live Updates P1: http://wp.me/p16sn9-4BE
Live Updates P2: http://wp.me/p16sn9-4D3
Live Updates P3: http://wp.me/p16sn9-4DQ

GAZA ATTACK March 21, 2011

Live Updates P1:http://wp.me/p16sn9-4yD
Live Updates P2:http://wp.me/p16sn9-4yK
Live Updates P3:http://wp.me/p16sn9-4yT
Live Updates P4:http://wp.me/p16sn9-4zc

.

Confirmed Names of Martyrs

(List only displays the martyred since March 16, 2011 for a complete overview of this years shuhada go here)

Mohammed Jihad al-Halw, 11 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Yasser Ahed al-Halw, 16 years old , killed on March 22, 2011
Yasser Hamed al-Halw, 50 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Mohammed Saber Harara, 20 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Adham Al-Hazareen, , killed on March 22, 2011
Sa’dy Halas, 23 years old , killed on March 22, 2011
Muhammad Atyeh Al-Harazeen, 27 years old, killed on March 22, 2011
Muhammad Abed, 31 years old, , killed on March 22, 2011
Mustapha Ahmad Sehwel, 5 years old, died 10 days after attack on on March 21, 2011
Imad Faraj Allah, 16 years old, died on March 20, 2011
Qasem Abu Eteiwi, 16 years old, died on March 20, 2011
Ghassan Fathi Abu Omar, 25, years old, died on March 16, 2011
Adnan Yousef Eshtewy, 23 years old, died on March 16, 2011

.

ஜ۩۞۩ஜ

By Israeli Attacks March 2011 martyred Palestinians

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar

ஜ۩۞۩ஜ

Advertisements

Children and a world of fantasy in Palestine ..أطفال من الخيال فى فلسطين

YouTube – Children and a world of fantasy in Palestine ..أطفال من الخيال فى فلسطين.

Airstrikes in Gaze Injure 11 People, Including Four Children

09.02.11 – 10:01

Gaza City – PNN – A series of airstrikes at dawn on Wednesday morning injured 11 people throughout the Gaza Strip.

Image

Scenes from an earlier airstrike in Gaza City (PNN Archive).

A local reporter for the state-run Wafa news agency said that nine Palestinians, including two women and four children, were lightly or moderately injured when an F-16 fighter jet struck a metal workshop owned by the al-Hatu family in northeast Gaza City.

The injured were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, most with cuts from glass that shattered inside the workshop.

The airstrike caused serious damage to a number of shops in the area including a carpentry storehouse belonging to the al-Susi family, where a fire broke out, which local authorities put out “with much difficulty.” A Ministry of Health drugstore was also damaged.

The Jahar al-Deek neighborhood in the southern Gaza Strip and Gaza City’s western coast were also targeted by airstrikes, as was empty land in the northern Strip and farmland in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood southeast of Gaza City.

Two rockets struck west of Khan Younis, injuring two Palestinians who were taken to the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis for treatment.

 

PNN – Palestine News Network – Airstrikes in Gaze Injure 11 People, Including Four Children.

Gaza minister: Children prove Gaza’s steadfastness

[ 27/01/2011 – 10:58 AM ]

 

GAZA, (PIC)– Gaza Minister of Culture Osama al-Issawi said the Palestinian government will continue to maintain Palestinian rights, and that Gaza’s steadfast children proved to the world that it remains strong despite challenges.

Issawi praised the legendary steadfastness of children in Gaza who lost their parents during the late 2008 Gaza war.

War-orphaned children, who met with minister at his Gaza headquarters, called for legal action against Israeli war criminals, a lift on the Gaza siege and freedom of movement.

Page Top

Gaza minister: Children prove Gaza’s steadfastness.

The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by Israeli Occupation Force Snipers

January 21, 2011 posted by Debbie Menon |  Veterans Today

Hiam is one of four Children we brought to CT for treatment. Hiam lost an eye to an Israeli sniper while she walked along a quiet street holding her mother’s hand (Gaza; picture in upper right is before prosthetic eye)

Our Silence is complicity

Shooting boys at work is nothing new for Israel, nor is shooting anyone else.

The U.S. FBI calls snipers who kill for sadistic pleasure “Long Distance Serial Killers (LDSK),” just another name for snipers who suffer from a criminal, sadistic psychopathology.

I’m not sure I could live with myself if I shot out a girl’s eye, or a protester’s or any one’s. I’m quite sure the snipers in the Israeli Occupation Force sleep well in their smug assurance that they are carrying out God’s will.

These are children. And Palestinians are human beings. What blinds you to this understanding, IDF? I really would like an answer.

By David S Halpin FRCS   Formerly, orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at the Torbay and Exeter Hospitals Devon UK

Introduction

The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International – Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010. (1)  Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers.  These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses.  The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith.  Political leaders have failed to act.  The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.

Context

Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished.  Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or  their children.  About 50% of the male population is without work.  It has been isolated and occupied for decades.  A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel.  The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature.  It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.

See also Israeli sniper bullet takes 12-year-old girl’s life

The misery was further deepened with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ that was unleashed 27/12/08.  This was promised 29/02/08 (2).  “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” – Matan Vilnai  Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio.  There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes.  This was followed by a full scale invasion.  1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically.  The minds of very many more were injured too.  4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques.  The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University  of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza ‘Strip’.  The siege has been even more draconian since.  Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that ‘bunkers’ could be constructed.  At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. (3)  Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked.  The 1,000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.

See also Israel’s dirty secrets in Gaza: Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms

The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete (‘gravel’) in the evacuated Eli Sinai ‘settlement’ and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the ‘Strip’.  The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling etc.  They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez.  A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools.  The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported  largely through the tunnels.  Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under ‘drones’ above.

The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts.  These points are made:-

  • In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire
  • The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper’s rifle in the hands of a sniper
  • Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off
  • A leg was the target in most cases.  Where the leg was not the target it is likely the sniper was ‘aiming up’ so the flank, elbow etc was hit instead.
  • No weapons were being borne by the gravel workers so they posed no threat to the Israeli Occupation Force personnel.  Instead they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp
  • The histories refer often to the recovery of the injured boy by friends and relatives under fire. This was a feature during ‘Cast Lead’ or instead the paramedics were barred from getting to the victims so they died without care.

The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1).  It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect.  The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded.  No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.

  • How many boys will regain full, or nearly full function is difficult to judge without the radiographs being present.  Cases 3,4, 5,7,13 and 15 are likely to have joint involvement and thus some lifelong disability.
  • In cases 1 and 3 there is nerve injury.  If that proves to be an axonotmesis in either, it is possible that a first class repair will not be available in Gaza.
  • The fractures are open by definition and no doubt comminuted.  Delayed or non-union is possible.  Deep infection is a real risk, antibiotic therapy not withstanding.  The risk of deep infection relates to  a.  the possible inclusion of fabric  b.  the high energy injury causing irregular and wide devitalisation of the tissues  c.  the probability that these difficult bullet wounds were not laid open and a complete wound toilet performed.  One or two of these boys might end with an amputation.
  • Almost all the boys have been frightened off or forbidden from gravel work.  There are few, if any, other means of earning shekels.

The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless.  DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children.  It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.

These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-

  • ‘The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work.  Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.’  Awad W- 3
  • The work was exhausting and dangerous. ‘Israeli soldiers would sometimes shoot at us, and sometimes shoot in the air to intimidate us,’ recalls Ibrahim .  ‘Sometimes they would                           shoot at the carts, horses and donkeys we used to move the gravel. But we had to do the work despite the dangers, because we didn’t have any other job to do.’  Ibrahim K- 4
  • Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into

the towers and the shooting would soon begin.  Mohammad M – 6

  • ‘They killed our three horses and one donkey in four months, and we had to spend the money we earned on replacing them.’ ….. ‘They were down on their stomachs pointing their rifles towards us, but they didn’t shoot. We got used to such things.’  Mohammad S – 11

Silence is complicity

References

  1. http://www.dci-pal.org/english/doc/press/UA_4_10_Children_of_the_Gravel_UPDATE_29_DEC_%202010(b).pdf
  2. http://www.haaretz.com/news/barak-hamas-will-pay-for-its-escalation-in-the-south-1.240417
  3. http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_21083.pdf

I thank Gerard Horton and DCI-P for the availability and excellence of this information, and for supporting publication in a medical forum.  I also thank Dr Khamis Elessi in Gaza for information.

Conflict of interest:  I founded the Dove and Dolphin Charity 110119

<http://www.doveanddolphin.co.uk/>   with a voyage to Palestine 8 years ago and chair its trustees.  It attends to the welfare of children in Gaza in the main.  No pecuniary benefit is derived from this charity.

(David Halpin can be contacted via  <david@infoaction.org.uk>

His web site is <http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/> )

FOOTNOTE

This paper was submitted to the Lancet and the British Medical Journal 4 January 2011 under the title ‘Ethical’.  The refusal from the latter is here:

The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by Israeli Occupation Force Snipers : Veterans Today.

Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish two years after Israeli attack that killed 3 daughters and niece

20 January 2011

“As Long as I am Breathing, They are with Me. I Will Never Forget”
 
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish was a well-known Palestinian gynecologist who spent years working in one of Israeli’s main hospitals. On January 16, 2009, two days before the end of Israel’s brutal 22-day assault on Gaza, his home was shelled twice by Israeli tanks. His three daughters and his niece were killed. He has just written a book about his life called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. He joins us in our studio for an extended conversation.

Rush Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the end of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Dubbed “Operation Cast Lead,” up to 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the 22-day assault between December 28th, 2008 and January 18th, 2009. More than half the Palestinians killed were civilians, over 300 of them children.

Today we spend the rest of the hour remembering the story of just one Palestinian family behind those numbers. It’s one of the better known tragedies of the attack, in part because it unfolded live on Israeli television.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a well-known Palestinian gynecologist who has spent years working in one of Israeli’s main hospitals. He crossed into Israel daily through the Erez checkpoint from his home in Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza.

During the assault, Dr. Abuelaish was interviewed regularly on Israeli television and radio. Not even Israeli journalists were able to report independently from within Gaza, making Dr. Abuelaish one of the few Hebrew-speaking witnesses who told of the Palestinian suffering under fire.

On January 16, 2009, a day and a half before the official end of the war, Dr. Abuelaish’s home was shelled twice by Israeli tanks. His three daughters were killed—21-year-old Bessan, 15-year-old Mayar, and 13-year-old Aya—as well as his niece Noor. Another daughter, Shatha, and his brother were also badly injured.

Moments after Dr. Abuelaish discovered the bodies of his children, he called his friend Shlomi Eldar, a correspondent at Israel’s Channel 10 News, for help. Eldar happened to be in the studio at the time. Democracy Now! producer Anjali Kamat narrates the exchange that was broadcast live on Israeli television.

ANJALI KAMAT: On January 16th, when Dr. Abuelaish called Shlomi Eldar of Israel’s Channel 10 TV News, Israeli tank shells had just struck his home. They killed his family, he says. “I think I’m a bit overwhelmed, too.”

He explains that Dr. Abuelaish is a physician at Tel Hashomer Hospital. He always feared his family would be hurt. His daughters were injured. “I want to save them, but they died on the spot, Shlomi. They were hit in the head.”

A visibly emotional Eldar explains that the doctor had unsuccessfully tried to get out for many days and was afraid to even raise a white flag. “A shell hit his home,” Eldar says. “And I have to tell you, I do not know how to hang up this phone. I will not hang up this phone call.”

The anchor calls on the Israeli Defense Forces to allow ambulances to get to the doctor’s family. Shlomi Eldar then excused himself from the show, took off his earpiece and rushed off the set to get help to Dr. Abuelaish.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the live broadcast of Israel’s Channel 10 News on January 16, 2009. No ambulances ever reached Dr. Abuelaish’s home, which was surrounded by Israeli tanks. He and the surviving members of his family walked a quarter of a mile carrying the dead and wounded through the streets. They eventually found an ambulance to take them to the closest hospital. Standing outside, a grieving Dr. Abuelaish kissed the forehead and hands of his children as they were strapped into stretchers. He addressed a news camera at the scene in Hebrew.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: [translated] What happened? Everybody in Israel knows. They know that I was talking on television and on the radio, that we were at home, that there are innocent people, 25 people, here. Suddenly, today, when there was a hope for a ceasefire, in the last day that I was talking with my children, suddenly they bombed us. That’s how you treat a doctor who takes care of Israeli patients? Is this what’s done? Is this peace?

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli TV correspondent Shlomi Eldar arranged for the evacuation of Dr. Abuelaish and his only surviving daughter, 16-year-old Shatha, who was badly wounded. The next day, Dr. Abuelaish spoke at a news conference at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Angry Israelis present at the hospital heckled him while he spoke.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: I want them to know that I am from Jabalia camp. I am Palestinian. And we can live together. And no difference between Palestinian and Israelis. Within the borders of the hospital, all are equal. Why not to be outside equal? Why not? My children—my children were involved in peace. In peace, they participated in many peace camps everywhere. They were weaponed when they killed them. They were weaponed not by arms; they were weaponed by love.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaking two years ago. Of his six daughters, three were killed. One was critically injured, lost her eye. His tragic story has come to symbolize Palestinian suffering during Israel’s assault on Gaza. His story made headlines around the world, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Abuelaish has just published a book. It’s called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity.

He flew into New York for an interview in our studio from Toronto, Canada, where he has been practicing and teaching. I began by playing for him the tape of the day his voice was broadcast on the Israeli airwaves, and I asked him to remember that day for us.

AMY GOODMAN: It is two years later. As you listen to this, it brings us all back. It’s painful to even play it for you. Tell us about this day two years ago.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: It’s living with me. It’s not two years. It’s every moment. I see it every day. I feel it. I see my daughters speaking with me every day, to talk to me. They are part of me. And that’s what can I say, as long as I am living. As long as I am breathing, they are with me. I will never forget—the opposite. All of the time, I feel, I am determined, those girls, as other girls of the world, that I believe in their potential—they are asking me, “Do more. Bring us justice, and keep our holy souls holy, and fight with wisdom and good words.”

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Abuelaish, tell us what happened that day, on January 16th.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: January 16th, we were expecting the ceasefire, day before or after. And a human life doesn’t need negotiation. It’s an urgency when it comes to human life. To save, we need to act immediate. And I was supposed to be interviewed live by Oshrat Kotler about women’s health and the situation in Gaza. And we were planning our future. Where can I be with my children? As I was fed up, and it’s time to be with my children, not to travel. I want to see them every day. And that’s the message, what I want to tell everyone. Don’t say “tomorrow.” If you can do it today, do it today. Spend as much as you can of your time with your beloved ones. You don’t know if tomorrow is coming or not. We were planning to go to Toronto. And then, after I left their room, the first shell came.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Of leukemia. I didn’t imagine it. I thought the shelling from the surrounding, because we were surrounded by shelling everywhere. I didn’t think that it’s my house. But when I saw the smoke, the dusk, the chaos within the house, I went inside the room. Where is Bessan? To see them, I can’t recognize Bessan, Mayar, Aya, Noor. Just to see Shatha in front of me with her eye on her cheek and her fingers. Mayar, I want to see her. Where is her head? Bessan, decapitated, blood, parts. I started to think of saving Shatha, not to see her blind.

AMY GOODMAN: Shatha was how old?

AMY GOODMAN: What time was it?

AMY GOODMAN: She had died of leukemia?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: She was 17. She was in her high school. And at that moment, I decided either to save her eye, or I am ready to accept her to be with her sisters, but not to be disabled. That’s why I called my friend Shlomi. And it was God’s bless that he was at the studio with Oshrat Kotler, and it was broadcasted live to show the craziness of humanity in the 21st century.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Four-thirty p.m. It’s the same time of the time when their mother passed away, afternoon. Just four months’ period, exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a clip of when my colleague, Anjali Kamat, and Jacquie Soohen came to Gaza, and you gave them a tour of your house. This is Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: We are standing in the scene of the tragedy, in the place where four lovely girls were sitting, building their dreams and their hopes, and in seconds, these dreams were killed. These flowers were dead. Three of my daughters and one niece were killed in one second on the 16th of January at a quarter to five p.m. Just a few seconds, I left them, and they stayed in the room—two daughters here, one daughter here, one daughter here, and my niece with them.

The first shell came from the tank space, which is there, came to shell two daughters who were sitting here on their chairs. And when I heard this shell, I came inside the room to find, to look. I can’t recognize my daughters. Their heads were cut off their bodies. They were separated from their bodies, and I can’t recognize whose body is this. They were drowning in a pool of blood. This is the pool of blood. Even look here. This is their brain. These are parts of their brain. Aya was lying on the ground. Shatha was injured, and her eye is coming out. Her fingers were torn, just attached by a tag of skin. I felt disloved, out of space, screaming, “What can I do?”

They were not satisfied by the first shell and to leave my eldest daughter. But the second shell soon came to kill Aya, to injure my niece, who came down from the third floor, and to kill my eldest daughter Bessan, who was in the kitchen and came at that moment, screaming and jumping, “Dad! Dad! Aya is injured!”

The second shell, it penetrated the wall between this room to enter the other room. Look. This is the room with the weapons, where this room was fully equipped with weapons. These are the weapons which were in this room. These are the weapons. These are the weapons: the books and their clothes. These were the science handouts. There, you see, these are her handouts for the courses that she studies, which is stained with her blood. It’s mixed with her blood. These are the books. These are the weapons that I equipped my daughters with: with education, with knowledge, with dreams, with hopes, with loves.

I am a gynecologist who practiced most of my time in Israel. I was trained in Israel. And I devoted my life and my work for the benefit of humanity and well-being, to serve patients, not as someone else that you are delivering or helping choose. I am dealing with patients and human beings. We treat patients equally, with respect, with dignity, with privacy. Politicians and leaders should learn from doctors these values and these norms and to adopt them.

This invasion, from the beginning, I said it’s useless. It’s futile. No one is winning. The innocent civilians, the Gazans, civilians, paid the price of this invasion, no one else.

Military ways proved its failure. We should look for other ways to give each other its rights. We don’t want to speak about peace. Peace is—you know, this word lost its meaning. We should find something else: respect, equality, justice and partnership. That’s what we should look for.

AMY GOODMAN: You have been watching Izzeldin Abuelaish or listening to Dr. Abuelaish, the Palestinian doctor who lost three daughters and a niece on January 16th, 2009: Bessam, 21; Mayar, 15; Aya, 14; Noor was 17, his niece. On this day, two years later, describe what was the Israeli government’s response to your children’s killing. You are well known throughout Israel, a Palestinian doctor who works in Israel. You were updating people on the siege almost every day on television.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: You know, it took one month to admit their responsibility and to say, “We shelled the house.”

AMY GOODMAN: As opposed to…?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: As opposed to be done immediate, to recognize that and to admit, to take responsibility from the first moment, because they shelled it. It’s not after one month. It’s the first day.

AMY GOODMAN: Right. What did they say had happened?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: They tried to justify. We don’t need to justify. It’s better—we are human being, and it’s a human to err. But a mistake is a mistake if we didn’t learn from it, not to repeat those mistakes. They started to justify, to say there were snipers, the first day. The second scenario, there were militants. The third day, there were firing. And the fourth scenario, that they took shrapnels from my niece’s wound, and it was coming from Qassam rockets. Why? Please.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s what they said.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: But it wasn’t true.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Of course. Of course. And it took one month to investigate it. Doesn’t need investigation for one month. It has been shelled, 16th, and it’s known who shelled it. Please. “We made a mistake. We did it. And we are ready for responsibility.” This is the easiest way, to have the moral courage to admit responsibility. It will help all to move forward, not to deny.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about your daughters. Bessam, 21?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Bessam, I see her in front of me now, with her smile, with her potential, with her love, with her humanity. She was supposed to get her BA a few months later. She was the mother, the sister, the friend, the good person to everyone after I lost my wife. She’s the one who encouraged me to go and to resume my work. She took responsibility. Bessam, the wise person—she doesn’t speak much; she listens. But when she speaks, she says wisdoms. She said, “I learned the academic exams are nothing. It’s the life exams we face in life.” She said, “Everything starts small, then becomes big. Everything starts in one place, then goes in different directions.” When I sent her to Creativity for Peace camp in New Mexico—

AMY GOODMAN: In Santa Fe.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: In Santa Fe. She said, “There, I realized how similar are we.” Can we learn from our children?

AMY GOODMAN: You mean there, Israeli and Palestinian girls.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Christian, Druze. They learned that they are similar. And that’s what we need to learn from our children, and to work for them.

AMY GOODMAN: And tell me about Mayar, who was 15.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Mayar, the smartest, the brightest girl. After once when I visited the school, she was number one in math in the Gaza Strip. If they have a math problem in their class, the students look at each other. They can’t—they say, “If Mayar was here, she is the one who is for it.” She was open-minded. She was the chairman of the students’ parliament, to represent them, to defend those girls. Aya was 14, who had planned to be a journalist, to be the voice of the voiceless, to think of others, to defend others, and to work for them. They were fighters for humanity, for peace. They were connected with others to feel the suffering of other children. And that’s what we need.

AMY GOODMAN: And Noor, your niece?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Noor, she was 17, 17 years old. She came for her fate. She was at the camp with her mother. But she said she can’t tolerate the life there—in a public space, 50, 60 people in one room, with shortage of everything. It’s intimidation, humiliation. She said, “I want to go there to be with my dad.” So she came and stayed with us. Just two days before, she came.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, your book, Dr. Abuelaish, is called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. You have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Your response has been remarkable. The response of Israelis to what happened to you? I mean, your cries for help were heard around the world in that conversation on Israel Channel 10—not conversation, your wailing for your family.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Those daughters, when I want to bring them justice, I must be healthy. And hate, as every one of us knows, it’s a poison. We don’t want to be injected with it. If you want to achieve a noble goal and cause, you must be healthy mentally, spiritually and physically, to defend your goals.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s three daughters and niece were killed in his home in Gaza when it was shelled by Israeli tanks on January 16, 2009, during the 22-day Israeli assault on Gaza. We’ll come back to our conversation with the Palestinian gynecologist in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We return to my interview with the Palestinian doctor, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.

AMY GOODMAN: You have sued the Israeli government. Your statute of limitations is out on January 16th, so you have just sued. What are you demanding?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Because they didn’t leave any alternative for me within two years. I was using and used every possible peaceful way, with Israeli ministers, Knesset members. Please, we need the truth and, to bring those daughters justice, apology, responsibility and the consequences of that. That’s what we want. It will be a new opportunity, a window of opportunity, for both nations, for the leadership to speak about the truth and to have the moral courage to move forward, not to deny. We need to take responsibility. So I asked for that, and I told, human life can’t be valued by money, and it’s time to give, not to take. Any compensation that comes, it will go for a foundation that I established, Daughters for Life, for health and education, for girls and women in the Middle East, including Israel. It’s time for women to take the lead and to practice their full potential and their role. That’s what I am determined. I want to see the plans of my daughters fulfilled by other girls.

AMY GOODMAN: More than 1,400 Palestinians died in the Israeli siege of Gaza. Talk about what happened during that time.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: During that time, it was a crazy moment. Three weeks, no one knows about what happened. And the world was closing the eyes about what is happening in Gaza. Even for me in Gaza, we don’t know what is happening outside my house. Just with a radio, I used to listen. And Gazans became numbers. Human beings are not numbers. They have faces. They have names. They have hopes. They have dreams. Can we get from there to consider a human being as a human being, not numbers? And that’s what we need. Tell what happened, 16th of January, to open the eyes of the Israeli public, the international community, the Palestinians, that we are killing innocent civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: How does it feel for you to come into the United States, Dr. Abuelaish, at this time? Then, it was the Israeli assault on Gaza. Your children were killed by a military that is armed and financed by the United States.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: It’s time to face each other and to speak. And it’s important to transmit the message. The Americans, the American Jews, Arabs, Muslims everywhere, we need to communicate and to speak. Words are stronger than bullets. And without communicating, without acting and meeting together, who’s going to solve? And I learned one thing: our enemy is our ignorance. We don’t know. We don’t know. And to know, we need to communicate and to explain face to face.

AMY GOODMAN: The story of your life is remarkable, and you tell it very graphically in your book I Shall Not Hate. If you could just share with us where you were born, tell us in a nutshell, which I think is very much the story of the Palestinian people.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: I was born, raised and lived as a Palestinian refugee in the Jabalia refugee camp, deprived of what is called a childhood. I never tasted the childhood as millions in this world, which is man-made suffering. And this is the hope. It’s man-made. So we, as a human being, we can challenge those man-made challenges and not to accept it and to change it. I succeeded.

AMY GOODMAN: Your father came from…?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: From a village called Houg, where Sharon’s farm is established. It’s close to Sderot.

AMY GOODMAN: So, your land, your father, what he has a deed for, is actually known today as the Sharon farm, Ariel Sharon’s farm?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: The prime minister.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: The Abuelaish land. And in a sudden, to be a refugee, own nothing. But our parents, especially the Palestinian mother—she is the hero. From nothing, they pushed, encouraged the children. We lost everything, but we didn’t lose hope in the Palestinian children to be focused and to be educated.

AMY GOODMAN: You say your family left Houg in 1948—

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN:—your father afraid there would be an attack.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: They were exiled to leave, and they were forced to leave. And they were thinking it may take just a few days, and they will go back—these days, months, years, and now six decades. And even in the place where are we now, we are not safe, or we are not free.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you grew up in the Jabalia refugee camp completely destitute.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Your only escape ultimately was your education, what your parents pushed you to do. And you became a doctor.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: The Jabalia refugee camp, it’s the place which is close to my heart. I feel the good and the bad times in the Jabalia refugee camp. It’s the memory, it’s the roots, but encouraged me of not accepting this life, this suffering, and that we can change it. I succeeded. From nothing. From nothing. And that’s the message I want others—please, stand up, have hope, have faith, and act.

AMY GOODMAN: How many of you lived in one room?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: We were—I remember, in the early days, the room, three by three meters, to have six, seven—one by one to be covered. In winter, we are attached together. That’s the life in the camp. We have no life. But we were determined, just breathing.

AMY GOODMAN: Describe what it’s like to go through a checkpoint. I mean, for you as an adult, as a recognized doctor, renowned through Israel as a gynecologist working in Israeli hospitals, describe what it was like for you to go through checkpoints. And where were these checkpoints?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: These checkpoints, someone, when he sees it from far, he doesn’t imagine it, especially when I leave from Gaza to Israel, to pass through how many checkpoints. It’s intimidation.

AMY GOODMAN: How many?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Just from the first gate to the last gate, it’s about 20 gates you pass through.

AMY GOODMAN: Twenty checkpoints.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Twenty gates. From one to the other, within one checkpoint, this is what is called Erez, a checkpoint. And you need to pass through that, electronized, with computerized cameras. You don’t see just doors open, and someone is telling by voice to cross or not. It took me—sometimes, if you are lucky, it may take one hour, two hours. And sometimes ’til the permits and the coordination is ready, it may take me, from Gaza to Tel Aviv, which is 45 minutes, it may take between two hours to four or five hours.

AMY GOODMAN: And you’d even have the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint asking you for medical advice about birth control and other issues.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: They know me.

AMY GOODMAN: They knew you, and you—still it could take hours.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: And they know me, and I know them. I understand the security needs, but can we make human life easy, too? Not to intimidate, not to humiliate. That’s what we need. A checkpoint security, I understand it. But it is not in that way, not in that way. When I came from Jordan to my wife, who was gasping—she was dying. I went to see her before she dies.

AMY GOODMAN: She died of leukemia?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: She died of leukemia. Took me more than 14 hours from Allenby Bridge to Sheba Medical Center.

AMY GOODMAN: And how far is it?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: It’s one-hour drive. And to move from one checkpoint to the other, we need to put ourselves in the shoe of the other. What are we doing? And why are we doing that? And is it the right way? Or can we change course?

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Abuelaish, newly released classified U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that Israeli officials openly told U.S. diplomats the aim of the blockade of Gaza was to keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse. According to a November 2008 cable, Israel wanted Gaza’s economy to be, quote, “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.” Can you describe the conditions?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Gaza is collapsing. There is no life in Gaza. And that’s—Gaza is stigmatized by everything you like for yourself, but for Gazans, say no—no life, no hope, no work, no employment. And some people—it’s shame to say, we open the borders for food. Human life is not dependent on food. They are hungry for food, for employment, for freedom, for education, to taste their life and to feel that they are free in their life. That’s what we need. What do you think of a person living in a palace, and you provide him with the best types of foods. He doesn’t need the food. He needs the freedom. The most holy thing in the universe is a human being under freedom, freedom of poverty and occupation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you think has to happen right now?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: What to happen, that—to admit the rights of the Palestinians and to take active steps, and that there will never be a just and good peace just for one. Must be good and just for all, for Palestinians and Israelis. And I think it’s time for the Israeli government and the Israeli people to stand up. We need to translate the resolutions into actions. There is a Palestinian nation and an Israeli nation, and they have to live sharing the land with respect, and that the dignity of the Palestinians equals the dignity of the Israelis. And the freedom of the Palestinians is linked to the freedom of the Israelis from their fears. The security of the Israelis and safety is linked to the safety and the security of the Palestinians, not dependent on the security and suffering of the Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: And here in the United States you are. Your message to the American people?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: We need them to mediate and to take action, to say—

AMY GOODMAN: Your assessment of President Obama?

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: Yes, and that’s what do we need. If we care about each other, even about your friends, if they are making mistakes, tell them, “This is not good for your interest.” We need to open their eyes. We may be hard and harsh with our beloved ones, from good will. And that’s what I think. We need to open the eyes of the Israeli public, and even if the Palestinian leadership is not committed to say to them, “This is not for your interest.” But also, the road map is the humanity between us, not the territory. You can’t have everything and the other side have nothing. Peace has a price, to be by choice or from the heart. You can, by military ways, succeed for short term; you can force others to accept. But it is not sustainable, and we must look and to find the ways that are sustainable and to protect the future of our children and to put our children as a priority.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. Three of his daughters and his niece were killed on January 16, 2009, when his home in Gaza was shelled by Israeli tanks. He has just written a book about his life; it’s called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. He is currently teaching and practicing in Toronto, Canada, with his surviving children.

 


RELATED Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish: ‘”We saved lives,” I told the children. “Your sisters’ blood wasn’t wasted”’

Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish two years after Israeli attack that killed 3 daughters and niece — Israeli Occupation Archive.

Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish | Interview | ‘”We saved lives,” I told the children. “Your sisters’ blood wasn’t wasted”

Two years ago, Israeli shells fell on Dr Abuelaish’s family home in Gaza, killing three of his young daughters and their cousin. The horror was caught live on Israeli TV when the doctor phoned his broadcaster friend. Amazingly, the loss did not embitter Izzeldin Abuelaish. Instead he decided his girls’ deaths must not be in vain – and slowly he has turned his family tragedy into a force for peace

Rachel Cooke | The Observer, Sunday 16 January 2011

    gazadoctor Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, whose three daughters were killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, at his home in Toronto, Canada. Photograph: Donald Weber/VII NetworkOn 12 December 2008, Izzeldin Abuelaish, a doctor from Gaza, took his six daughters and two sons on a day out. The family rose early, packed a picnic and, at 7am, climbed into his old Subaru and headed out. Gaza is not big – just 25 miles long, and nine miles across at its widest – but the situation being what it is, it can take time to move around and Abuelaish was determined that they make the most of the hours ahead. Twelve weeks earlier, Nadia, his wife of 21 years, had died suddenly of leukaemia and ever since, every day had dawned black. It was his intention, that sunny winter morning, to shine a little light on them, to give his brood some respite, however brief, from their grief. 

    1. I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey
    2. by Izzeldin Abuelaish
    3. Buy it from the Guardian bookshop

    Their first stop was a surprise. Unbeknown to his family, Abuelaish had recently bought a small olive grove, about an acre in size. Separated from the urban sprawl by a 10ft-high fence, it was “a utopia, a little piece of Shangri-La”. The smaller ones, delighted to discover this new place, ran among the olive, fig and apricot trees, before finally settling down to eat their falafel sandwiches beneath a bower of vines. As they did so, the family talked. Abuelaish had been offered a job in Toronto, Canada, and he wanted to know how the children, who had never known anywhere other than Gaza, would feel about this. (Good, as it turned out. “I want to fly, daddy,” said his daughter, Aya.) The family discussion over, they headed to the beach, where the children dashed over the dunes, chased the surf, and wrote their names in the sand. Abuelaish cherished their laughter, the way they mimicked and teased one another. For the first time in many days, his spirits lifted. “We are getting there,” he remembers thinking. “They will be okay. Together, we can do this.”

    In Gaza, though, a man may take nothing for granted. On 27 December, Israel launched an air strike against the Gaza Strip, a response to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli border towns by Hamas. This was followed, on 3 January 2009, by a ground invasion. For the next three weeks, Gaza was a war zone. It was impossible even to leave the house. Was Abuelaish frightened for his family? Of course, he was. “But we were prepared. I filled two small suitcases with precious things: passports, certificates. I told each of the children what would happen in a case of emergency. Because the shelling was everywhere. No one was without risk.”

    All the same, he refused to consider the possibility that anyone in his family would be hurt. Apart from anything else, they were not involved. No weapons in the Abuelaish basement, no Hamas militia on the roof. “Could we fight the most advanced military in the world? No. We had only our muscles, our blood.” He trusted in God and, though he does not spell it out, in a kind of magical thinking. Don’t think about it, and it will not happen.

    He also made himself useful. For the duration of the war, the Israeli government allowed no journalists to enter Gaza; they could only gather on the border, and listen to the shelling. But Abuelaish knew plenty of Israelis – thanks to his work as an infertility specialist, he had worked in several Israeli hospitals – and among his many friends on the other side was Shlomi Eldar, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10. Eldar began calling Abuelaish late every afternoon to ask what had happened during the course of the day. Live on air, his friend would then describe the scene – from the vantage point of his living room window, he could see entire neighbourhoods being obliterated – for the benefit of viewers of the evening news show. Abuelaish knew that his audience was not likely to be particularly sympathetic to his point of view. Most Israelis believed the Gazans had brought this crisis on themselves. He also knew that there was a chance that someone on his own side would take against his addressing Israel, and that this might involve reprisals against his family, but he kept taking the calls. “With my voice in their ears, the Israelis couldn’t entirely ignore the cost to the Palestinians of their military action.”

    The next days were dreadful. On 13 January, the air was so full of debris and dust, it was hard to tell day from night. On 14 January, a tank rolled up outside their front door, and only after a hysterical phone call to Shlomi – who, horrified, called the Israeli defence force to ask if they knew that they were aiming their guns at the house of a doctor with no connections to Hamas – did it finally move on.

    Their home was starting to feel crowded. Abuelaish’s second eldest daughter, Dalal, 19, was at her aunt’s house, but his other children – Bessan, 20, Shatha, 17, Mayar, 15, Aya, 14, Mohammed, 12, Raffah, nine and Abdallah, six – were all with Abuelaish. So, too, was his brother Shehab and his daughter, Noor. In the apartment below was another brother, Atta, and his family; in the apartment above, his brother Nasser’s family. Between the three apartments, there was much coming and going: there was comfort in crowding together. But supplies of food and water were running low. There was talk of a ceasefire, and Abuelaish tried to reassure his children that it must surely happen soon. Privately, though, he was worried. Rumours of a ceasefire often signal the last violent bombardment of a conflict. Could the worst be yet to come?

    On 16 January, after a lunch of duck with rice – Shehab had taken the risk of heading out to the backyard to grab the birds – and a phone call to Dalal, whom everyone was missing, the family drifted out of the dining room. The girls, meanwhile – Shatha, Mayar, Aya and their cousin Noor – went into their bedroom to read and do their homework until it was time for the family again to huddle together on the dining room floor (no one slept in their own beds; they were considered too close to the buildings’ outer walls for safety). Nine-year-old Raffah was in the kitchen, with Bessan. Mohammed was in the hall. Abdallah, the baby of the family, was on his father’s shoulders. Abuelaish was trying to distract the boy; the situation – his family’s imprisonment in their own home – was incomprehensible to him.

    Suddenly, there was a monstrous explosion: “a thundering, fulminating sound,” says Abuelaish, that penetrated his body, almost as if it were coming from within him. There was a blinding flash, and then it was pitch dark. Dust everywhere, the struggle to breathe, the sound of a child screaming: these are the things he remembers, and always will. In the next few moments, it dawned on him that a shell had hit his daughters’ bedroom. He ran towards it. “I saw everything,” he says. “My children in parts. A decapitated head. And Shatha in front of me, with her eye on her cheek.” The room was now a heaped mess of school books, dolls and body parts. Mayar, Aya, and his niece, Noor, were dead, their limbs strewn about the place as carelessly as their toys. Shatha was bleeding profusely from her hand, one finger hanging by a thread. Then came a second blast. This took Bessan. Ghaida, his brother Atta’s daughter, who had run up the stairs from their apartment towards the noise, lay on the floor, wounds all over her body. Abuelaish looked at all this, and inside him, something stirred. A desire to fight pushed his shock, which should have been so paralysing, out of the way with unexpected force. “I thought: what can I do? And I started moving, fast. I thought of Shatha. I didn’t want her to be blind, to lose her fingers. I didn’t want that. Then I looked at my son. He has lost his sisters. Now what is he going to do? How can I protect him? Is he going to be an extremist, to be crazy, to hate the world?” These thoughts, he insists, are not retrospective. Truly. His brain was working overtime. “I started to think. What can I do for those who are living?”

    Abuelaish remembered that, though there might be soldiers outside his door, though it would undoubtedly take a long time for an ambulance to push its way through the dangerous, pot-holed streets, he still had a powerful connection to the outside world. He pulled out his phone, and called Shlomi Eldar.

    Eldar was in a Channel 10 studio in Tel Aviv, sitting behind a desk with another news pundit. He saw Abuelaish’s name come up on the screen of his phone, but he didn’t answer the first call. The show was live, after all. Then, just as an interview with the foreign minister Tzipi Livni was about to begin, his phone flashed again. This time – to this day, he doesn’t know why – he answered. Livni could wait.

    I have since watched what happened next on YouTube at least a dozen times, and all I can tell you is that it never grows any less powerful. Eldar holds his mobile up to the camera, so the audience at home can see it. He also puts it on speakerphone so that the voice on the other end is clearly audible. On the line, a man is weeping. “My God, my God,” he says, over and over. “What have we done? What have we done?” The expression on Eldar’s face is terrible. It is clear that he is struggling not to cry. “Tell me where you are,” he says. “They’ll send an ambulance to your house.” Abuelaish seems not to hear this. “I wanted to try to save them,” he says. “But they died, Shlomi.” This goes on for several minutes until, finally, Eldar, ashen, tight-lipped, excuses himself, pulls his microphone from his shirt, and exits the studio. “I can’t hang up this conversation,” he says.

    Outside the studio, on another line, Eldar rang the administrator of the Erez checkpoint. Open the border, he told him. Let the ambulances we’ve called through. The idea was that the Israeli ambulance teams would meet their Palestinian counterparts at the border, so that Shatha, Ghaida and his brother Nasser, who had also been injured, could be transferred to an Israeli hospital (Gazan hospitals are simply not well enough equipped for most emergency work). Meanwhile, someone else had the foresight to dispatch a camera team to the border, too – which is how, a little while later, television viewers in Israel came to see Abuelaish first kissing a heavily-bandaged Shatha, who is by now on a stretcher, and then directing the paramedics as they put her inside an ambulance. I’ve watched this several times, too. The first action is so tender, the second so determined. Though it seems not to make any sense at all, amid the chaos and the flash of camera lights, you already glimpse in Abuelaish the qualities on which, in the coming days, people were to remark admiringly, and with some amazement, again and again: his calmness, his stoicism and, above all, his dignity.

    Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, with his son Abdallah, 6, feels the strain in the aftermath of the Israeli air strikes against the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP Photo In Toronto, it is far too many degrees below freezing for anyone’s comfort and when I arrive at his suburban house, Abuelaish is, somewhat inexpertly, shovelling snow. “You don’t get this in Gaza,” he says, with a smile. The job done – well, sort of – we go inside. “Welcome,” he murmurs, extending an arm. “Welcome.” The house smells faintly of za’atar, the thyme and sumac mixture Palestinians claim as their national dish and, on a side-table, stands a model of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. But otherwise, this could be the house of just about any Canadian family: flat-screen television, computer, gleaming fitted kitchen. From upstairs comes the reassuring sound of children bickering. Everything is very normal, and very safe: about as far away from Gaza as it is possible to be.

    Abuelaish is now a professor in global health at the University of Toronto. What does it feel like to be here? Another beaming smile. “It’s not such a change,” he says. “We just think: why can’t it be like this in Gaza? Why not? I hope that when we go back to Gaza, this is the feeling the children will take with them.” So they will return? “Of course, eventually.” Is the family homesick? “Yes. We are so far from our beloved ones, from the graves: my mother, my wife, my daughters. But we are also great! The children are great! Talk to them, you’ll see.” His daughter Raffah appears. She is very pretty. “I’m the second youngest,” she says. Her father gazes at her adoringly. “It’s true what people say,” he murmurs. And what do people say? “That time is a great healer. And faith helps. It’s a great asset; it’s a blessing from God, and it helps you.” Right from the start, he tells me, it was his children that reminded him of this. “When I called my friend [Shlomi Eldar] and I was screaming, my son Mohammed said to me: ‘Why are you crying? You must be happy.’ ‘Happy for what?’ I asked. ‘Because my sisters are with their mum,’ he told me. It came as a message: this 12-year-old boy telling me to move forward. I was saved, and now it was my job to save others. I could have been killed, too, so very easily, and then no one would have known our story.”

    This is his mission: to tell his family’s story and, in doing so, prove to the world that not every Palestinian is motivated only by revenge – and he embarked on it right away, as soon as Shatha was out of surgery. The morning after he and Shatha arrived at the hospital, Zeev Rotstein, the director of the Sheba Medical Centre, a hospital where Abuelaish had once taught, organised a press conference, and asked him to speak. Abuelaish told the journalists that, inside the hospital, all were equal. Why, he asked, could this not also be the case outside? About halfway through, however, he was interrupted, in full view of the television cameras, by a screaming woman, her face contorted with rage: Levana Stern, an Israeli mother of three soldiers. She blamed the victim. “Who knows what you had in your house?” she shouted. “No one is saying anything about that.” Abuelaish, pale now, put his head in his hands. “They don’t want to know the truth,” he said. This is the only time most people have ever seen him look anything like close to defeated.

    It must have been a horrifying moment. But, amazingly, it didn’t change anything. “Actually, it was good,” he says to me, now. “She was one Israeli, only one. Others started to open their eyes. Hundreds of people from all over the Holy Land, people I didn’t know, sent messages to me. They were awakened. And that’s when I understood: this tragedy will do some good.” Hours later, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, announced a unilateral ceasefire. “So, we saved lives. I told the children: your sisters’ blood wasn’t wasted. We sacrificed them for others. There was a reason.” Encouraged, he determined to keep going. During the two years since the shelling of his home, he has travelled the world, always giving, in essence, the same speech: I refuse to hate, he tells his distinguished audiences, and I do not believe in revenge; hatred is an illness, and the enemy of peace. His stance has won him humanitarian awards around the world, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. But it has also, appallingly, led to claims that he is cashing in on his loss, a point of view to which I can only say: weren’t there people who said the same about Otto Frank?

    So far, the Israeli government has neither compensated Abuelaish, nor apologised to him. “Actually, for me, it’s not a question of compensation,” he says. “But an apology? Yes. That would be good. The truth is the shortest way in life. It’s not shameful to apologise. If I did something wrong to you, and I said sorry, I would be highly valued by you, and in the eyes of others. I wish they would have the moral courage.”

    He has been told that there exists a statute of limitations on the issue of compensation and apology of two years. Two years! “There is no statute of limitation for our loved ones. It’s insane. For me, it’s now. It’s now, and it will always be now. It will never leave me, so long as I am breathing.” He sees his daughters in waking dreams: they move, they smile. They live with him still, spiritually. “Believe me, even as I speak to you, I see them.” Though he makes no sound, he has begun to weep: huge tears, that he makes no effort to wipe away.

    The pity of it is, he could not even bury his daughters. The Qur’an says that the dead must be buried quickly, and getting a permit to travel back into Gaza from Israel, where he was still watching over Shatha, Ghaida and his brother, would have taken too long. Nor were Bessan, Mayar and Aya permitted to be buried beside their mother; the family was told by Israeli soldiers that, at the present time, no one was allowed into the Jabalia camp cemetery. Did the doctors save Shatha’s eye? “Yes, but not its sight.” And her hand? “She is able to use it, but with some difficulty.” Where is she now? He smiles. “She’s upstairs, studying,” he says. “I wanted her to talk to you, but she apologises: she did not know you were coming, and so she is not ready to show herself.” A pause. He is grinning, now. “She is a very good student, believe me. Just a few weeks after the attack, you know, she got 95% in her final high-school grades. Now she’s studying computer engineering at the University of Toronto. She’s amazing.”

    This is true. But my hunch is that she is also a chip off the old block. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s childhood was, as he puts it in his new book, spent “in the shadow of a promise”. We’ll go back soon, said his parents. Maybe in two weeks, maybe a little longer. The Abuelaish family is from Houg, a village near Sderot, the Israeli border town now so mercilessly plagued by Qassam rockets. The family was a large and prominent one, and Abuelaish’s grandfather, Moustafa, was the village head. In 1948, however, when the State of Israel was created, Moustafa decided that it would be wise for the family to leave; he had heard rumours of attacks on Arabs elsewhere and, though he didn’t know if these stories were true, he decided to run. Gaza, a designated safe area, was not far from Houg, so that was where they went. Today, the Abuelaish family farm is owned by Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli general and prime minister, who now lies in a coma in an Israeli hospital.

    At the Jabalia refugee camp, where Abuelaish was born in 1955, life was hard. Until he was 10, the family, which eventually numbered 11, lived in a single room only 10ft square. Water was delivered by the United Nations; the children were usually barefoot, flea-bitten and hungry. When Abuelaish was five, one of his newborn siblings – there always seemed to be a newborn – was killed in a terrible accident. His brother Nasser had been messing around and, trying to escape his mother’s slap, had accidentally jumped into the dish bucket which doubled as a cradle at night, crushing his tiny sister. The child was buried the next day, and no one ever mentioned it again.

    As the eldest son, Abuelaish was expected to contribute to the family’s meagre finances as soon as he was capable, and by the time he was 12, he had no choice but to combine school with part-time work. He sold milk rations to other desperate families, and he loaded fertiliser on to farm trucks, rising at four o’clock every morning to start. Life was a grind, punctuated by more misery: in 1967, came the six-day war, after which Israel assumed full control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; when Abuelaish was 15, his family home was unaccountably bulldozed under orders from Ariel Sharon. There were, he writes, two ways young men could respond to all this. Some became political. Abuelaish’s brother, Noor, joined Fatah, Palestine’s biggest political party, and went on to do a stint inside an Israeli prison (after his release, he went to Lebanon; the family has not heard from him since 1983). Others invested everything they had in education. This was what Abuelaish chose. He worked, and worked, and he was rewarded: a scholarship to study medicine in Cairo; a postgraduate qualification in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of London; and a masters degree in public health at Harvard.

    Right from the beginning, he was determined never to generalise when it came to Israel. It was easy to despise an individual: a particularly difficult soldier at the border; the Jewish mother who accused him – a highly qualified Arab doctor – of trying to murder her baby. Ditto the policies that made life in Gaza so difficult. But it was not acceptable, he felt and still feels, to allow these feelings to transmute into hatred for an entire people. Besides, he had so many Israeli friends.

    As a teenager, he had worked on an Israeli moshav, where he was never treated with anything other than kindness by its owners. As a doctor, he had been employed by several Israeli hospitals, helping Israeli women with fertility problems. At the time of the shelling of his home in 2008, he was working full-time at the Gertner Institute, a renowned centre for the study of health policy and epidemiology in Tel Hashomer, near Ramat Gan. During the long – they sometimes felt endless! – journeys between Gaza and Israel, he learned, not hatred, but a patience and a humility that have seen him through a great deal. Impossible to get ideas above your station when you spend as much time as any taxi driver, farmer or waiter standing at the border checkpoints. On one occasion, Abuelaish arrived at the Israeli hospital where he was working, only to find that he had left his briefcase behind accidentally at the crossing. By the time he had driven the 27 miles back, it had been blown up by the soldiers. It took him two months to replace the documents – those all important travel permits – that had been destroyed.

    Tell him that you wish more people were able to be so clear-sighted, though, and he will only admonish you. “I am not exceptional,” he says. “You think the same, don’t you?” But it’s easy for me, I say; I don’t live in Gaza or, for that matter, in Sderot. “Well, in the case of the Palestinians, we need to make them ready to listen. You didn’t do this interview out in the street in the cold, or in the middle of the night. You came with your tape recorder, and you were prepared, and you listened. It’s the same with Gaza. People are hungry, and sick. If we made sure they were not hungry, or sick, they would be in a position to listen. Who can help them? The Israeli side. Their sickness, their hunger, affects the Israelis. Return my life to me, and I will show you how much I appreciate that life.”

    Nevertheless, I am in awe of his extraordinary optimism. Even from the safety of my sofa at home in London, I can’t feel optimistic about the situation in Israel/Palestine. “But that’s not true,” he says. “Why did you come to see me? Because you feel optimistic about this interview. And that’s great! This small spark of hope… maybe we can turn it into a big fire.”

    There is talk of another war in the region right now; the borders are more tense than they have been for many months. Does this worry him? “I think that nothing is impossible. But I also think there are alternatives. If this situation was a patient of mine, I would not necessarily be suggesting surgery.” His main anxiety, he says, is the refusal of the Israeli government to stop building settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. “It’s such a small thing: just to freeze it for a few months. The world is begging them! But if we can’t even make this happen…”

    What does peace look like? “I can say only that there will never be peace when it works only for one side, and that maybe peace cannot be imposed but must come by choice. It looks to me as though Palestinians and Israelis are sailing in the same boat, and what’s dangerous for one is dangerous for the other. They are like conjoined twins! We need a two-state solution which gives security and dignity to both.”

    Meanwhile, in Canada, his work goes on. Abuelaish has established a charitable foundation, Daughters for Life, which he hopes will support the education of girls. “Because I am determined that my daughters’ names will not only be written on their gravestones, but on the doors of institutions, and other good places.” The week after we meet will be the second anniversary of their deaths. For the first anniversary, he returned to his house in Gaza, now finally rebuilt. He needed to be there. But this year, he will stay at home in Canada. “We will sit together as a family, and we will talk about them, and pray for them, and look at photographs. Those precious, lovely souls. They were combatants for humanity, and for peace, and their loss was unjust. But we will remember them with holy deeds and noble words, and we will keep their memory alive until we see them again. As long as I am living, they will speak to me, and to others.” For a moment, he closes his eyes. “For as long as I am breathing, they are breathing with me.” The silence that follows is broken only by the sound of Raffah. The cartoon she is watching has made her laugh, and like wildfire, it spreads: first to me, and then to her father. This is the saddest story I have ever had to write, but it is not only that. It is also a story of hope and, as Izzeldin Abuelaish has already told me more than once, we are none of us anything without that.

    Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish | interview | World news | The Observer.

    Relief society: Israel’s violations worsen health services for Gaza children

    [ 13/01/2011 – 08:37 AM ]

     

    GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian medical relief society warned that the health services provided for children, especially the cancer patients, in the Gaza Strip are insufficient and getting worse as a result of Israel’s ongoing blockade and military attacks on the Strip.

    In its annual report, the society said that in 2010 it provided a range of services for children who developed diseases or were injured during the last war on Gaza.

    “We are working on providing integrated quality services aimed at improving the medical, social, economic and psychological conditions of the wounded children and their families,” director of the society Ayyd Yagi stated.

    Yagi affirmed that the medical relief crews follow up 276 children injured during the war and help them financially, adding that the relief society last year assisted financially those children on a regular basis in cooperation with the Italian charity Ghazala.

    He also said that the society also help in other 100 children, including orphans and patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart, kidney diseases.

    In another incident, a committee of NGOs, human rights organizations and the representative of the world health organization was formed in Gaza on Wednesday.

    The committee will be embarking on resolving the crisis of inadequate medicines and medical supplies which was created by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah city.

    This came during an urgent meeting held at the NGOs headquarters in Gaza to address the acute shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza.

    The Palestinian ministry of health had accused the illegitimate government in Ramallah of not providing Gaza fully with its share of medical supplies and deliberately causing a crisis in the health sector.

    Rrelief society: Israel’s violations worsen health services for Gaza children.

    UNWRA | Helping the children of Gaza two years on


    <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtuWtPXbNVY&amp;feature=player_embedded”>YouTube – Helping the children of Gaza two years on</a>.

    YouTube – Helping the children of Gaza two years on.

    Gazan 5 month baby ran over by satanic Israeli driving a 70 ton tank

    YouTube – Gazan 5 month baby ran over by satanic Israeli driving a 70 ton tank!!!.