A Palestinian doctor made a plea for justice Tuesday for his three daughters and a niece killed in the 2008-9 Gaza war, a day ahead of a trial in Israel.
Izzeldin Abuelaish lost the four girls in the incident in January 2009, and the much delayed civil trial that could award compensation is due to begin Wednesday.
“This is an emotional moment for me. But I want you all to know that I am not coming to defend but coming to advocate for justice and hope,” Abuelaish told journalists in Jerusalem.
“In spite of the tragedy and what happened to us we succeeded with the help of my beloved children to make life from death.”
Earlier in the day he addressed a committee in the Israeli parliament.
Abuelaish, who worked in an Israeli hospital at the time of the deaths and speaks Hebrew, has said all compensation will go to a charity to educate women.
The case became prominent when he called an Israeli television station shortly after the deaths.
“They are girls, only girls. They are bombarded. Why were they killed?” he cried out after his 20, 14 and 13-year-old daughters died.
After an investigation, the Israeli army admitted their troops were responsible for the deaths, saying they mistook the girls for spotters from Hamas.
Recently, however, defense lawyers have filed new documents alleging that shrapnel from the girls’ bodies indicates there were explosives in the house not used by the Israeli army, local media reported.
Abuelaish called such claims “immoral, unethical (and) insane”.
Israel’s military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Following the deaths, Abuelaish moved to Canada with his remaining children and wrote a book entitled “I Shall Not Hate” about reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We came today here to send a message to Bissam, to Mayar, to Aya and to Nour that you are alive and will be kept alive as long as we are living and breathing,” he said on Tuesday.
He filed the civil complaint in late 2010. His daughter Shatha, 25, who survived the incident, said she was angry they were still waiting for justice.
“I am angry because we have to fight for this,” she told journalists. “The victim has to ask for justice.”
“We should always follow them and ask them to take responsibility so this never happens again.”