Palestinian doctor’s tragedy prompts plans for women’s college in Gaza

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 25 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c486
  1. Nathan Jeffay
  1. 1Tel Aviv

    The Palestinian doctor who lost three daughters in the Israeli attack on Gaza last year talks of the future

    One of the most unforgettable events of last year’s war in Gaza was the killing by the Israel Defence Forces of three daughters of a Palestinian gynaecologist who worked in Israel but lived in Gaza and who was a long term supporter of Arab-Israeli coexistence (BMJ 2009;338:b213, doi:10.1136/bmj.b213).

    Now Izzeldin Abuelaish has spoken to the BMJ to describe how he feels about last year’s events and what he is planning for the future. Revisiting Israel from his present home in Canada, he said that he thought his daughters’ deaths had been of crucial importance in ending the war. “The blood of my daughters was a price that saved others’ lives,” he said.

    Dr Abuelaish thinks that the attack put Palestinian suffering higher on the Israeli and the international agenda and had an immediate effect. The next day Israel’s then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, announced a unilateral ceasefire. Israel has never said that the announcement was connected to his tragedy, but Dr Abuelaish is sure that it had an effect.

    He said, “Olmert announced the unilateral ceasefire after he saw what happened, so it saved lives.” He has set up an international foundation in memory of his daughters to enable women in the Middle East to attend a liberal arts college, which he hopes to set up in Gaza.

    He is planning to sue the Israeli Ministry of Defence in a case that may end up in Israel’s Supreme Court. Any compensation will go to his foundation.

    On 16 January 2009 the world learnt of Dr Abuelaish’s tragedy in …

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