Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish goes through photos like any proud parent and uncle.
But in his case the photos he’s showing are of his three daughters who died in 2009 as well as 21 members of his family who were killed on Nov. 7.
Dr. Abuelaish is a Palestinian-Canadian doctor; born and raised in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip.
For years he has been active in promoting Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and has received five Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
His three daughters were killed in the war in Gaza in 2009. He says another 21 members of his family were killed just 10 days ago when a missile struck the home they had crowded into.
As a doctor, Abuelaish says he has a duty of care and would not abandon patients at hospitals in Gaza if he were told to leave.
He says the response to the Hamas attacks on Israel will only lead to prolonged misery.
“I fully believe that all of this will lead only to more bloodshed and animosity and hatred. More anger, more violence, and extremism,” Abuelaish said.
Abuelaish worries about will be left behind in Gaza – people without homes and limbs, orphans, disease and a lack of hope – even in his own family.
“How can I convince them that we need to move forward? How to convince them to believe in humanity?” Abuelaish said.
Despite the pain, Abuelaish has experienced with the death of three daughters and seeing the conflict reignite, he believes there is a path to peace.
Abuelaish said people need to feel safe, equal and free of occupation.
“We need to equalize and that’s the guarantee for a stable, sustainable, healthy, peaceful life for Palestinians and Israelis,” Abuelaish said.
We need to equalize between Palestinians and Israelis. The dignity, freedom, equality, and life of the Palestinians is equal to the dignity, freedom, equality, and life of the Israelis and politicians need to achieve this equation,” Abuelaish said.
In the book I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, Abeulaish speaks about the dangers of revenge.
Abuelaish set up a Canadian foundation in memory of his daughters and niece called Daughters for Life, with goals of building schools for women in the Middle East, as well as a school for First Nations women in Canada.
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