August 13th, 2009
10:52 PM ET

Pain and hope – 'Daughters for Life'

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Program Note: Watch Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's interview TONIGHT on AC360° 11p ET

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
Daughters for Life

Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish came to the world's attention during the recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, when the respected obstetrician, holed up with his family in their home, gave daily interviews from the battle zone on Israeli television and radio.

Then, on Jan. 16, the last day of the offensive, Israeli fire killed three of his daughters. "My God, my girls," Abuelaish wailed that night on Israeli television, decrying the loss of Bessan, 20, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 14, as well as his niece, Nur Abuelaish, 17. Now he is trying to use his fluent Hebrew and English - and his pain - to appeal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. What follows is an edited transcript of an interview he did with The Times' Marjorie Miller.

I had returned home on Dec. 25 from Tel Hashomer, the hospital where I work in Israel. That day, they had opened the border for humanitarian aid for the first time in more than a month, which made me realize something bad would happen. At 10 a.m. on the 26th, the airstrikes started.


Editor's Note: A foundation, with an international mandate, is being established to provide leadership development and educational access to women throughout the middle-east. The foundation honors the memory of Dr. Abuelaish's daughters and serve as a living legacy. For more, check  Daughters for Life 

Filed under: Global 360° • Israel • Palestine
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. meenas17

    Three lovely daughters and a niece being killed is absolutely pathetic and sad.. The wailing of the father is heard in every corner of the world..

    August 14, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  2. Irwin Rubin

    It would be wonderful if the people of Gaza would be able to choose leaders like Dr. Abuelaish rather than Hamas who are more interested in stirring up hate and maintaining themselves in power than in bringing a measure of peace and prosperity to Gaza. Those who would criticize Israel need to ask themselves what other country allows citizens of a country that has sworn to destroy them work in their country. Dr. Abueliaish works in a hospital in Israel despite the fact that he is a Palestinian from Gaza, This is probably why he is so understanding of both sides–he knows that the Israelis are not demon infidels. He understands that his girls were caught in an ugly crossfire of hate and misunderstanding.
    Those who criticize Israel might also ask themselves how they would have reacted to their country being constantly under rocket fire. While the Hamas rockets did not kill many Israelis, they maimed many and destroyed lives. I personally know of a physician who suffered major damage to her face as the result of a rocket attack in Ashkelon.
    Those who have never been to Israel might be very surprised to see the interactions between everyday Israelis and Arabs there. They might start by going to the zoo in Jerusalem where they will see Jewish and Arab families side by side. Clinics in the religious sections of Jerusalem are manned by Arab doctors on Saturdays who also work there during the week.
    Dr. Abuelaish knows that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are "demons" and that there will be no peace until more people recognize this.

    August 14, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  3. Liz Berney, Esq.

    During the TV segment on this story, Anderson Cooper asked Dr. Abuelaish why he doesn't hate Israelis (thereby seeming to imply that it is appropriate to do so). Cooper's question was totally inappropriate and he should be ashamed of himself for it.

    Cooper should have asked whether Dr. Abuelaish hates the Hamas /Palestinian leadership and terrorists who brought the Gaza operation upon Gaza by inflicting 8 years of rocket attacks on Israeli towns, kindergartens, homes, and synagogues. There would have been no Gaza operation if Hamas had not incessantly attacked Israeli civilians from Gaza. The sole purpose of the Gaza operation was to try to stop the rocket attacks (150 attacks a day on Israel). It is a terrible tragedy that daughters of a decent man were casualties. However, it should have been pointed out that the real responsibility for that tragedy is Hamas, for turning Gaza into a rocket-launching pad for attacks on Israeli civilians.

    Israel gave Gaza greenhouses and other peaceful businesses, which the Palestinians could have enjoyed and made a living from. Hamas destroyed the greenhouses. Instead all Hamas does is kill and attack.

    We also have to wonder why Cooper never does similar stories about the poor Israelis of Sderot. The 8 years of Palestinian/Hamas rockets have destroyed hundreds of Israelis homes, caused hundreds of life-changing injuries (including to Israeli children, who have lost limbs) and caused Israeli civilian deaths. Why is Cooper silent when the injured and dead are Jews and Israelis?

    August 14, 2009 at 7:17 am |
  4. DH in LA

    Don't you hate them? My God, how can you not hate them? Christiane Amanpour and Anderson Cooper keep probing. They seem both amazed and disappointing by the answers.

    Dr. Abuelaish wants something good to come from his loss. This is a miraculous perspective for a man who lost three daughters. He seems to believe we live in the best of all possible worlds. He has found a way to keep this tragedy from being unbearable.

    Note that one never sees CNN ask the same questions to Israelis who have lost their families in terror attacks.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:07 am |
  5. Christy Daly

    So when do we decide as Americans to step in and help? Do we risk our own financial gains to save these people? These Human beings? What's it worth? $100? $1thousand? $1million?$1billion. To save a life?9

    August 14, 2009 at 2:38 am |
  6. Terry

    My power bill can wait, What can I do to help?

    August 14, 2009 at 12:09 am |
  7. Kandy Powell

    Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish defines love and peace because he clearly lives, believes, and practices them. What a wonderful world this could be if we had the same mind set. May his daughters rest in peace and may he and family find comfort in knowing that their lives were not lived in vain.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  8. meeroon nisa ali

    These deaths are so very, very,sad, and unnecessary, what a terrible loss for this family.How sad it is for any parent to bury a child..in this case 4. This should never have happened, regardless. My condolences to the families..Meeroon Nisa Ali

    August 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  9. clem

    for the people that are acting ugly at the town meeting. where are the dog,water hose, and the national guard. when the shoe is on the other foot they become a concerned people. every one of them know that the
    president is looking out for the united state as a whole remember he said
    that he would give a hand if you would open yours

    August 13, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Kevin Saucedo-Broach

    Horrible. Absolutely horrible. The death of those young girls is an absolute abomination on nature itself. ANYONE'S death is an abomination, but for a man to have to witness something like what this man witnessed is beyond what is even consievable in many of our minds. This war is stupid. Simply put. I understand the opposing sides reasons, but the fighting and the murder and the blood is stupid, wasteful, idiotic, disgusting, abominable, and honestly makes me want to cry. They need to SIT DOWN and work out their problems, man to man (or woman), face to face, person to person. That's where true solutions lie, not in destruction and murder. Please, SOMEBODY solve their problems! Please somebody stop the horror!

    August 13, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  11. S Gomez

    That's absolutely terrible, four of his family and offspring at one time man that's the worst.

    August 13, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  12. john a tate iii

    good job reporting this.

    i imagine zionists don't dig it
    one bit.



    August 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  13. Ann F (IL)

    This is terrible. My condolences to the family. I can only hope that the deaths weren't in vain that others will take note to the peace and cooperation that needs to be.

    August 13, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  14. Annie Kate

    What a terrible loss this man has suffered yet he still believes in peace and in working to live side by side as friends with his Israeli neighbors. His daughters deaths was so not necessary and so very terrible. My condolences go out to him and the remainder of his family on the death of his daughters; my admiration for his courage to go on in the face of the greatest loss a parent can experience – the death of their own child.

    August 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm |