Gaza War Doctor Grieves 3 Daughters

By: Ibrahim Barzak and Ian Deitch AP
By: Ibrahim Barzak and Ian Deitch AP

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The Palestinian doctor provided Israeli TV viewers with regular updates on Gaza fighting's human toll. But Friday's report was different - with sobs he told how his three daughters and a niece were killed by an Israeli shell.

"I want to know why my daughters were harmed," Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish said on Channel 10. "This should haunt (Israeli Ehud Prime Minister) Olmert his entire life."

Throughout the 21-day war, Abu al-Aish has brought accounts of war's tragedy to Israeli living rooms, making him for many the voice of Palestinian suffering.

During the broadcasts, Abu al-Aish also often spoke of his fears for his eight children as Israeli shells punished not only the Hamas militants they were targeting but civilians who live in the crowded enclave. His wife reportedly died recently of cancer.

When Channel 10 called him on Friday, he answered his cell phone crying that his house in the northern Gaza strip town of Jebalia had been hit by Israeli shells and his daughters killed. Eighteen members of his extended family were in the house at the time.

Gazan officials identified Abu Al-Aish's slain daughters as 22-year-old Bisan, 15-year-old Mayer and 14-year old Aya. His niece was identified as 14-year-old Nour Abu al-Aish.

At least two other daughters were injured.

His tragedy prompted numerous calls of concern to the station, many from people who know him.

"We all know and love him well at Soroka, and we really hope the situation gets better," Dr. Shaul Sofer, head of the ER at Soroka who taught Abu al-Aish.

Abu al-Aish, a 55-year-old gynecologist, is a rarity among Palestinians, a Hebrew speaker who trained in two Israeli hospitals. He is also is a known peace activist who was involved in promoting joint Israeli-Palestinian projects, and an academic who studied the affects of war on Gazan and Israeli children. He works at Gaza's main Shifa Hospital.

Israeli TV said initial reports indicated that a sniper had fired from either the family's building - which friends quoted by TV said they doubted - or nearby, and the Israeli infantry responded with a tank shell.

Abu al-Aish was able to arrange the transfer of two injured daughters to Israeli hospitals - something that has been extremely rare during this conflict. The Israeli army also for the first time allowed a Palestinian ambulance to go straight to the Erez border crossing, where the injured were transferred to Israeli ambulances.

From there, they were taken by helicopter to Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv.

"Everyone knew we were home. Suddenly we were bombed. How can
we talk to Olmert and (Foreign Minister) Tzipi Livni after this?" Abu al-Aish told television reporters at the border crossing.

"Suddenly, today when there was hope for a cease-fire, on the last day ... I was speaking with my children, suddenly they bombed us. The doctor who treats Israeli patients."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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