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Palestinian Israeli conflict

Gaza doctor’s appeal for apology heard by Israel’s Supreme Court without a decision

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A Palestinian doctor appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday to order the military to issue an official apology and compensation for a 2009 Israeli strike in Gaza that killed three of his daughters and a niece.

For 13 years, Izzeldin Abuelaish has sought justice for what he says was a terrible mistake by the Israeli army. A tank strike on his Gaza home during the 2009 war between Hamas militants and Israel killed his daughters Aya, 14, Bessan, 21, and Mayar, 15, as well as his niece Noor, 17. Another daughter survived but was wounded.

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The military has said the strike was aimed at militants in the area, and in 2018, a lower court sided with the army. Now Israel’s Supreme Court is hearing Abuelaish’s long delayed appeal.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom before the hearing, Abuelaish said he felt his daughters were with him and that he was “coming to advocate for the truth and their rights.”

“I hope today this court (will) not kill them again,” he said.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish holds a photograph of his daughter’s room in Gaza as he sits inside Israel’s Supreme Court for a hearing on his demand for an apology and compensation in Jerusalem, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish holds a photograph of his daughter’s room in Gaza as he sits inside Israel’s Supreme Court for a hearing on his demand for an apology and compensation in Jerusalem, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Abuelaish, who moved to Canada after the tragedy, was a well-known figure in Israel when the strike occurred.

The Harvard-educated doctor and peace activist had worked at an Israeli hospital while living in the Gaza Strip.

During the 2009 war, the first of four between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, he provided live updates to Israeli media in fluent Hebrew.

But when his home was hit, an Israel TV station delivered a real-time report from a sobbing Abuelaish to Israelis. “My daughters have been killed,” he cried as a journalist listened at the other end of the line as the audio aired live.

Later Monday, the Supreme Court hearing adjourned without a decision.

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