Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish at Israel's Supreme Court, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP/Ariel Schalit) (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, known as a peace activist, deserves justice, but he’s going about it the wrong way.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Perhaps you saw the Associated Press headline in your local paper.

Gaza doctor’s appeal for apology heard by top Israeli court

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish has filed a lawsuit demanding an apology and compensation from the State of Israel. On January 16, 2009, during the Gaza war, aka Operation Cast Lead, the obstetrician’s home in the Jabalia refugee camp was hit by two Israeli tank shells, tragically killing three of his daughters and a niece. The girls were 14-21 years old.

The incident was tremendously emotive. Despite the IDF’s closure of the Gaza Strip, Harvard-educated, Dr. Abuelaish had permission to enter Israel to work at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center. He was a symbol of coexistence.

The tragedy was even more shocking because he was on the phone live with Israel’s Channel 10 News when his home was hit.

After the war, Abuelaish moved to Canada and is Associate Professor of Global Health at University of Toronto. Now 66, he is pursuing justice.

Abuelaish deserves justice. But he’s going about it the wrong way for five reasons.

1. Abuelaish’s building was a source of Palestinian sniper fire.

2. The IDF warns Gaza civilians to leave their buildings before they are struck. Abuelaish and the IDF dispute whether he was warned. Hamas has sometimes told Palestinians to disregard the IDF warnings as psychological warfare.

3. Shrapnel from Qassem rockets was found in the bodies of the girls.

4. Hamas doctrine is to deliberately embed its rocket launchers, weapons caches, tunnels and command and control centers in civilian areas, using innocent men, women and children as human shields. Palestinian casualties and destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and mosques always reinforce Hamas’s twisted narrative of victimhood.

5. The tank strike was in the context of a three-week war. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad had indiscriminately fired more than 3,000 rockets and mortars at Israel in 2008. Operation Cast Lead began in December after the IDF uncovered a cross-border tunnel which Hamas could have used to abduct Israelis.

IDF measures to mitigate civilian casualties may not be perfect, but they are meaningful. And as technology improves, IDF air strikes have become remarkably surgical. After Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021, UNRWA’s Gaza chief, Matthias Schmale admitted to Israel’s Channel 12 news that the IDF’s strikes were “precise” and “sophisticated.” For his frankness, Hamas declared Schmale persona non grata, forcing him to leave the Strip.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish didn’t dig the tunnels, station the snipers or store the rockets in and around the UNRWA-administered Jabalia refugee camp. He should demand an apology from Hamas for endangering him and his family.

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