The deaths that opened the hearts of many Israelis.
So many deaths in this bloody war between Israel and Hamas have been in vain. If anything can be a consolation to Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish at this unimaginable hard time, is the fact that the death of his 3 daughters opened a channel between Palestinian hearts to the mainstream Israeli hearts.
It happened last night, and the events were broadcasted live in prime time to homes across Israel. I can tell that my elderly parents, whose town was under Hamas missile attacks for more than 2 weeks now, were sobbing on the phone.
I believe that the tragic death of Dr. Abu al-Aish's daughters was not in vain. It opened the hearts of many other Israelis (According to polls 72% of the population believes that the war against Hamas is justified) and made them see not only the ugly face of war, but their opponent as a human being and a brother.
I can tell Dr. Abu al-Aish that many in Israel cried with him last night. And that when the fire ends soon and when we all start to pick up our pieces, his voice and the images of his daughters being rushed to Israeli hospitals will stay burnt in Israeli awareness.
The Palestinians are not beasts, neither are the Israelis. The war is, and some political and religious leaders are.
We will have to reach for each other, heal the wounds together, build trust a little by little and start a dialogue. There's just no other way.
I cry with you Abu al-Aish.
From The Associated Press:
Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a Palestinian doctor who trained in Israel, has been a regular fixture on Israeli television during the 21-day-old war against Hamas militants, bringing witness accounts of the medical crisis facing Gazans to Israeli living rooms.
His report Friday was drenched in grief as he sobbed through a cell phone that three of his daughters and a niece were killed by an Israel Defense Forces shell.
"I want to know why my daughters were harmed. This should haunt (Israeli Ehud Prime Minister) Olmert his entire life," Abu al-Aish said on Israel's Channel 10, speaking through a cell phone in Hebrew as he has throughout the war.
Gazan officials identified Al-Aish's deceased 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.
Throughout the war, Abu al-Aish had put a face on the Palestinian suffering, making regular reports by cell phone to Israel's Channel 10. He is a rarity among Palestinians, a Hebrew-speaker who trained in two Israeli hospitals - the Soroka hospital in Beersheba just 18 miles from Gaza, and Tel Aviv's Tel Hashomer hospital.
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, 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.
During the call-ins, Abu al-Aish 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, unable to leave. His wife reportedly died recently of cancer.
When Channel 10 called him on Friday, he answered the 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.
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."
From a press conference Dr. Abu al-Aish held in the hospital
'My children should be the last to die'
Dr. Abu al-Aish arrived at the Sheba Medical Center where he works as a gynecologist on Friday night. "I had three beautiful daughters who loved to help people. They were soldiers of peace," he said.
"I hope this is the end. If this death satisfies the leadership, my children should be the last to die," he told his colleagues at the hospital.
Abu al-Aish was not at home when the tank hit the building, and learned of his daughters' death when he got there.
"I wanted to devote my life to the girls. I only lost my wife several months ago," he told the many friends who arrived at the hospital.
Many of the doctor's acquaintances – including reporters, human rights activists and physicians who have worked with him – arrived at the hospital immediately after the incidents.
Radio host Gabi Gazit, who had spoken to him many times since the start of Operation Cast Lead, said, "It's this ugly war. A doctor is sitting here, I would almost call him a Zionist Palestinian, and grieving the loss of his three daughters, wanting to know what this happened."
'He believes in coexistence'
Dr. Liat Lerner-Geva, Director of the Women and Children's Health Research Unit at the Gertner Institute, who has worked with Dr. Abu al-Aish on his research, told Ynet, "I don't know how this man will get back on his feet after this tragedy."
She said that she had tried to contact the doctor immediately after watching the report on television.
"He returned to Gaza on Thursday before the operation began. He went to see the children and was supposed to return to Israel on Monday, but on Monday he could no longer return.
"He would arrive in Israel and stay with friends three nights a week. Although he had permits, they would always give him trouble at the crossings. He believed in coexistence and practiced it in his work," she said.
Dr. Abu al-Aish's study examined the treatment of Palestinian children at Israeli hospitals. As opposed to Israeli children who are released after a short while, the Palestinians children usually remain hospitalized in Israel for a long time because the treatment and follow-up cannot be continued in the Strip.
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