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Top Israel Court Rejects Gaza Doctor's Appeal for Damages from 2009 War

Top Israel Court Rejects Gaza Doctor's Appeal for Damages from 2009 War

Thursday, 25 November, 2021 - 04:45
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli airstrikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israel's Supreme Court rejected Wednesday an appeal from a Palestinian doctor who sought compensation for the killing of three of his daughters and a niece during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

Izzeldin Abuelaish, a gynecologist who now lives in Canada, filed a civil complaint in 2010 after the January 2009 incident that killed the four young females, ranging in age from 13 to 20.

Israel's top court called the incident a "tragic event" but said it was not awarding compensation because the law affords "substantial immunity" to the state in times of conflict.

"Our heart goes out to the petitioner, a bereaved uncle and father to three girls who were killed prematurely," AFP quoted the court as saying.

"At the same time, the severe consequences caused to the petitioner have no remedy and solution in the process at hand."

Abuelaish, who speaks Hebrew and was educated at Harvard University, worked in an Israeli hospital during the conflict.

The deaths occurred when his family home in Gaza was hit by Israeli tank fire. The case gained attention after he called an Israeli television station shortly after the deaths.

Israel's army had said it was targeting militants in the area amid the conflict that began after Hamas took over the enclave in 2007.

The Abuelaish family has always categorically denied any Hamas members were in the home.

Speaking outside the Jerusalem court last week where his appeal was heard, Abuelaish called on Israel to show "the moral, ethical and human courage" to admit wrongdoing.

"The biggest challenge in our world is individual responsibility. They have to overcome this fear, or arrogance, or greed, or denial. They have to acknowledge it and I am determined," he said.

Speaking to AFP after the appeal was rejected, Abuelaish's lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein said he had advised his client that a legal victory was unlikely given precedents set in similar Israeli cases.

But Abuelaish wanted to "exhaust every possible legal option", the lawyer said.

After moving to Canada with his remaining children following the deaths, Abuelaish wrote a book entitled "I Shall Not Hate" about reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Born in Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp, he now teaches public health at the University of Toronto.

Abuelaish had said any damages awarded would be donated to charity and that he was also seeking an apology from Israel over the deaths.

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