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Dagelijks archief 18 februari 2017

High Court to discuss al-Qiq’s health condition on Sunday

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The Israeli High Court decided on Friday to hold a hearing next Sunday to determine the health status of the captive journalist Mohammed al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for the twelfth day in a row protesting his administrative detention.

Fayha Shalash, al-Qiq’s wife, told al-Quds Press news agency that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) is still insistent on preventing al-Qiq from meeting his lawyer or family, and refuses to disclose his health status.

She said that lawyer Khaled Zabarqa filed an urgent request to the Israeli High Court to reveal the health condition of al-Qiq amid an Israeli intransigence and the IPS’s refusal to allow him visits.

Shalash affirmed that the Israeli court will hold a hearing next Sunday to determine her husband’s health condition as well as his legal status.

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) re-arrested al-Qiq on 15th January 2017 after detaining him along with relatives of Palestinian martyrs who had attended a protest in Bethlehem city, and imposed administrative detention on him.

Al-Qiq went previously on a hunger strike in November 2015 that lasted for 94 days and was ended on 19th May 2016 after he clinched a deal stipulating his release.

In a related development, Palestinian activists organized two protests on Friday in solidarity with the Jerusalemite prisoners Jamal Abu al-Lil and Raed Muteir on the second day of their hunger strike.

According to al-Quds Press, Palestinian activists staged a protest in front of the central court in occupied Jerusalem, and another one at the entrance of Qalandia refugee camp, north of the city, where they raised portraits of the two prisoners and demanded their immediate release.

The IOF arrested Muteir and Abu al-Lil on 14th and 15th February 2016 respectively. The Israeli occupation authorities imposed 6-month administrative detentions on them three times.

Prisoner Jamal Abu al-Lil is a former member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, while Raed Muteir is the head of Qalandia Youth Center, and both of them are residents of Qalandia refugee camp who were arrested several times before.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Why Arab leaders cannot replace legitimate Palestinian ones

A Palestinian man in a Hebron, West Bank, coffee shop watches the Feb. 15, 2017, joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

A number of experts on Arab affairs believe that efforts to delegitimize the Palestinian leadership are bound to run into a wall of Arab opposition. Oraib Rantawi, the director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Al-Monitor that no Arab leader today will bypass the legitimate Palestinian leadership. “This issue was settled at the 1974 Arab Summit when the PLO was declared as the representative of the Palestinian people.”

Rantawi added that although the Arab world is in disarray, Arab leaders will not take on the issue of Palestine by themselves. “While some Arab countries have not been totally happy with the current Palestinian leadership, no one will take the risk of falling into the trap of bypassing the legitimate Palestinian government and presidency.”

In this context, the Arab quartet (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) reportedly expressed in December its dissatisfaction that the Palestinian leadership refused the quartet’s entreaty to include Mohammed Dahlan within the leadership structure.

An Arab Summit, planned for March in the Jordanian capital, Amman, might address the Palestinian issue, although Rantawi said he does not think it will be high on the agenda. “While Arab countries are careful not to anger the Trump administration, the issue is not that urgent and likely won’t require a strong position,” he said.

Nabil Khatib, a veteran Arab journalist based in Dubai, told Al-Monitor that Arab leaders are committed to basic essentials needed for any realistic resolution: “Arabs are committed to the representation of the PLO as per the 1974 Rabat Summit decision, and along with 57 Islamic countries, to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.”

Khatib, who specializes in Middle East affairs, said that pressures and proposals involving Arab leaders regarding the peace process always fail. “These proposals have never worked, and I believe they will not work this time.”

Taj Abdel Haq, a leading columnist from the UAE and editor of Eremnews, believes that while the Palestinian cause has shifted in order of their priorities, the Gulf countries will not circumvent the political rights of Palestinians. “Gulf countries will not accept the perpetuation of the occupation of Jerusalem and will insist on the principles enshrined in the UN resolutions,” he told Al-Monitor

Both US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the idea of reaching out to the Arab leadership to break the current negotiations deadlock. In a joint press conference Feb. 15 in Washington, Netanyahu called the current situation a historic opportunity. “We can seize a historic opportunity because for the first time in my lifetime and in the lifetime of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly as an ally.”

For his part, Trump has included regional Arab leaders in his future plans. “Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region toward greater security and stability,” he said at the conference.

The actual Israeli position on the Palestinian conflict witnessed a major retraction. The narrative and requirements of Netanyahu for peace have changed following Trump’s inauguration. Netanyahu, who used to insist on negotiations without conditions, suddenly has new conditions. He refrained from calling for direct talks or repeating his lip service support of the two-state solution. In the press conference, held even before the White House summit commenced, Netanyahu said he wants Israel to continue ruling the Palestinian people, denying them political rights, while at the same time insisting that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

So even if Palestinians become Zionists and pay homage to Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, Palestinians will still have to live with perpetual Israeli control. In the press conference, Netanyahu’s conditions included that “Israel must retain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River” in any future solution.

This idea of the minority Israelis in the occupied territories ruling the majority Palestinians is called apartheid and is considered a war crime according to international humanitarian law. Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti responded to this idea by stating in a press release, following the Feb. 15 White House meetings, “Palestinians are unwilling to live as slaves to the occupiers in an apartheid racist system.”

Former US peace envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk has indicated that a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could include Arab leaders. The new approach, detailed in a December 2016 Indyk piece on the Brookings Institution site, is called the “outside-in approach.” According to Indyk, this approach would include a key role for Arab leaders. It “would involve Trump convening the leaders of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN) and the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) in a summit meeting to announce a set of agreed principles that would serve as the terms of reference for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a two-state solution.”

Arab commentators, however, dismissed this approach as well. Rantawi noted that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative stipulates clearly that Arabs and Muslim leaders will only normalize relations with Israel once it agrees to withdraw from the areas occupied in 1967. “Arab leaders are too weak today to meet with Israel and normalize relations with it without a commitment by Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders,” said Rantawi, noting that Arabs will not be able to make more concessions than Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Trump-Netanyahu love fest that was broadcast around the world doesn’t bode well for Palestinians or for any possible peaceful breakthrough. It reveals a clear rejection of the ABCs of peacemaking. Instead of building on experiences of previous administrations and learning from their mistakes, we are forced once again to provide the new resident of the White House with basic education about the requirements for peace in the Middle East. They include: respecting the parties to the conflict, providing a plan that ensures an end to the occupation, a reversal of illegal settlements and allowing Palestinians the right to determine their own future on their own land alongside the State of Israel.

If this two-state solution is unacceptable, then a one-state solution where all citizens have equal rights irrespective of religion is also acceptable. Palestinians, however, are unwilling to live under an oppressive and apartheid regime.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Source: Barghouthi considering resigning from Fatah central committee

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A source close to the captive leader in Fatah Movement, Marwan al-Barghouthi, said on Friday that he is considering resigning from the Fatah Central Committee two days after distributing positions and responsibilities in the committee.

The source told the PIC that Barghouthi’s decision came after he held consultations with a number of Fatah leaders inside Israeli jails and outside, but he asserted that he will continue to serve the Palestinian people regardless of his position.

The source pointed out that Barghouthi is following up the current situation, especially excluding him from the leadership tasks in the Central Committee despite winning the highest votes in the elections of the Fatah Seventh Conference on 29th November 2016.

Fadwa al-Barghouthi, the Fatah leader’s wife, slammed the Central Committee for neglecting her captive husband, and called for reconsidering the decision not to assign any of the committee’s tasks to her husband.

Barghouthi was the most likely candidate to serve as Fatah’s vice-president, yet Mahmoud al-Aloul, the member of the Fatah Central Committee, was elected for the position.

Fadwa al-Barghouthi wrote on her Facebook page, “While Hamas chooses the ex-prisoner Yahya al-Sinwar to lead the movement in the Gaza Strip, and while the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is Ahmad Saadat, who is imprisoned in Israeli jails, the Fatah Central Committee insists that Marwan is absent.”

The Fatah Central Committee held an important meeting on Wednesday to elect the movement’s vice-president as well as other officials without assigning any position to Barghouthi.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Palestinian police officer severely wounded in hit-and-run accident

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A Palestinian police officer was seriously injured on Friday when a young citizen ran over him at a makeshift checkpoint near Zababdeh town, east of Jenin in the West Bank.

Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that 42-year-old Mahmoud Aissa, a police officer, was hit by a speeding vehicle as he was trying to stop it at a temporary roadblock near the Haddad tourist village.

They added that the vehicle flipped over on a road near al-Zababdeh town and its driver fled away after the police pursued him.

They noted that the reason behind the driver’s refusal to stop at the checkpoint was that he was afraid of being arrested because the car he was aboard was unauthorized.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Young White Men Are Being Radicalized. It’s Time To Talk About It

As Trump pitches fight against ‘Islamic terrorists’, where is the alarm over disenfranchised men being lured into white supremacist movements?

Richard Spencer, the founder of the so-called “alt-right” movement, an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. (AP Photo)

Richard Spencer, the founder of the so-called “alt-right” movement, an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism

White supremacy swept to power the day Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His most ardent supporters championed him across the world. For them, Trump signaled the resurgence of white male dominance and they weren’t ashamed to celebrate it.

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 1,094 hate related incidences in the US since the first month of Trump’s election victory

Their influence is growing. Following Trump’s executive order to ban citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US – a decree overturned by federal courts – white nationalists took to Reddit to express their joy. Trump, it seemed, was the real deal.

One user even said that he was so proud of Trump that he couldn’t possibly “raise his right arm any higher” – a reference to the Nazi salute.

These posts aren’t anecdotal. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented 1,094 hate-related incidences in the US since the first month of Trump’s election victory. In 37 percent of all cases, there was a direct reference to Trump or something he said.

The SPLC has also counted 892 hate groups in the US, the clear majority of which espouse white supremacist views.

Many of these movements are active on gaming networks and internet forums such as Stormfront, which has become a breeding ground for far right-wing extremists.

Now, the White House is presenting racism as an acceptable ideology, resulting in the radicalization of young white men across the world.

It’s time we talk about it.

Richard Spencer is a self-declared “white nationalist” who founded the Alt-Right – Alternative Right – movement in 2010. He has erecently kicked off a tour of college campuses to recruit new members who are disillusioned with the Republican political establishment.

In 2015, Muslims experienced a 67 percent increase in hate crimes directed towards them

At its core, the Alt-Right claims to protect white people from an unfolding “cultural genocide” perpetrated by the empowerment of feminists and people of colour. But who is supposed to protect everybody else from bigots like Spencer?

In 2015, the FBI reported that out of the 2,125 hate crime offences recorded against blacks, white people were the perpetrators 58 percent of the time. Whites, on the other hand, were victims in only 10 percent of the total of 5,850 reported incidences.

Meanwhile, Muslims experienced a 67 percent increase in hate crimes directed towards them in the same time frame. Anti-Semitic attacks remained the most frequent.

The real figures could be much higher since many states don’t report hate crimes to the FBI. That’s only part of the problem. The fact the White House is propagating hate speech is more worrying.

Lecia Pickett, the outreach director for SPLC, said that their centre has started a programme on college campuses to try and safeguard young white men from radicalisation. She also emphasised the importance of engaging with Republican groups who sponsor talks by people like Spencer.

“[Minorities] are very concerned with the increase of anti-Semitism and anti-feminism,” Lecia told MEE.

“[America] just can’t afford to backtrack on these things. [SPLC] is speaking on campuses all the time and speaking to administrators as well.”

Despite the efforts of groups like SPLC, propaganda is difficult to counter.

Last year, Breitbart News – an Alt-Right outlet that Trump promoted during his campaign – experienced a considerable spike in traffic from 13 million to 19 million visitors.

The resurgence of Nazi aspirations hasn’t compelled governments to seriously ponder how to safeguard young white men from extremism – unlike the hysteria that follows people of colour and Muslims when a crime is committed in their name

Such platforms and the leaders who endorse them are radicalising people beyond the US. That much was clear after a white French-Canadian student stepped into an Islamic Cultural Centre late last month and killed six men for no reason other than their faith.

It was later revealed that the shooter supported Trump and the far-right French politician Marine Le Pen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killing a terrorist attack. However, the resurgence of Nazi aspirations hasn’t compelled governments to seriously ponder how to safeguard young white men from extremism – unlike the hysteria that follows people of colour and Muslims when a crime is committed in their name.

That trend is certain to continue. Donald Trump’s administration is already pushing to remove neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the US governmment’s counter-extremism programme. Instead, they want to concentrate solely on “Islamic terrorists” and change the name of the programme from ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ to ‘Countering Radical Islamic Extremism’.

Never mind an FBI report, written more than 10 years ago, that warned about white supremacists groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement. The disturbing truth is that they won’t have to look over their shoulder as long as Trump is in charge.

If only the same can be said about young black men who continue to be profiled, harassed and killed by the police.

The banality of Trump

Many Trump supporters, while understandably fed up with the corrupt political establishment, failed to combat the bigotry of their candidate.

His campaign catered to the most extreme prejudices of white America. The nation’s racist past appeared to be an afterthought for his supporters. Not much has changed in the first weeks of his presidency.

The latest Reuters opinion poll reported that more people supported Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims than opposed it. Opinions were divided almost entirely along political party lines.

That’s not to say that everyone who agrees with Trump is radicalised. But it does suggest that people are buying into the fears being fed to them.

Trump is shoving a vision of the world – deprived of nuance and tolerance – down the throats of anyone willing to swallow it.

His tactics aren’t new. The Jewish German political theorist, Hannah Arendt, once wrote: “the sad truth is that most evil is done by those who never make up their minds to be good or evil”.

These words couldn’t be more relevant. Trump’s administration is counting on their most passive supporters to approve presidential decrees while hoping those who resist eventually normalise the unacceptable.

If that happens, white supremacy will thrive in the wake of indifference.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Hamas: Israel not showing seriousness in forming new prisoner exchange deal

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Hamas movement said on Friday that Israeli authorities were making a serious effort to strike a new prisoner exchange deal to release Israelis held by Hamas and Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, had received Israeli offers through intermediaries last week, but said what Israel is offering did not “meet even the minimum of the demands made by the resistance.”
Qassem said that the “statements of Israeli leaders are just part of their lies directed at the families of the imprisoned Israeli soldiers to convince them they are putting in efforts to bring them back.”
Hamas claims to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were pronounced dead by Israel during the 2014 war in Gaza, though Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead.
Earlier this month, Hamas had reportedly rejected an offer by the Israeli government to release a Hamas official in Israeli custody in exchange for the release of one of two Israelis thought to be held alive in the Gaza Strip.
Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, has reportedly been held by Hamas since September 2015 when he accidentally wandered into Gaza. Hisham al-Sayed, a young Israeli-Bedouin man who has schizophrenia, was last seen when he crossed into the Palestinian territory in April 2015.
Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal who have since been redetained before starting talks of a new prisoner swap deal.
According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of January.
(Source / 18.02.2017)

Israeli forces close Qalandiya checkpoint due to local dispute

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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces closed Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Friday evening allegedly after a local dispute erupted between Palestinian youths at the checkpoint.

Israeli forces fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the Palestinian youth, and eventually completely closed the checkpoint, causing a massive traffic jam.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the closure.
(Source / 18.02.2017)

New Tunisian electoral law raises issue of military’s role in politics

Tunisian soldiers listen to the national anthem in Sabkeht Alyun, Tunisia, Feb. 6, 2016

On Feb. 2, the Tunisian parliament approved a law related to local and municipal elections, granting members of the security and military institutions the right to vote for the first time in the country’s history. This precedent sparked controversy in Tunisia, as some people believe that military officers should enjoy the right to vote, just like their fellow citizens, while others believe that passing such a law will jeopardize the impartiality of the military institution and will involve it in political affairs.

After years of complete neutrality in political and electoral life, Tunisian soldiers, officers and security members will cast their votes in the upcoming municipal and local elections. Chapter 6 of the new local electoral law states that “military and security officers are allowed to vote in local and municipal elections only.” But this law contradicts Article 18 of the Tunisian Constitution, which states, “The national army is a republican army charged with the responsibility to defend the nation, its independence and its territorial integrity. It is required to remain completely impartial.”

The law also contradicts Article 19 of the constitution, which states, “The national security forces are responsible for maintaining security and public order … with complete impartiality.”

In this context, Sami bin Salameh, a former member of the Independent Higher Authority for Elections in Tunisia, told Al-Monitor, “Security and military officers, as well as members of the armed forces, are special citizens. For that reason, we must always adapt their rights as citizens to the respect of principles related to security and military life, hence discipline, loyalty, neutrality and readiness to serve. Granting them the right to vote in elections — even if only municipal — is a dangerous process that could affect these four principles, interfere with their work and involve them in the political arena in spite of themselves. After all, Tunisia is still living an incomplete transitional phase plagued by difficulties and violation attempts from parties.”

The military institution has yet to issue a comment on the law, as its members are quite reserved and do not disclose their opinions to the media.

Salemeh pointed out the security hazards of granting security and military officers the right to vote, saying, “Their votes will reveal their political and ideological affiliations, in addition to disclosing their identities and where they are based due to their registration on electoral lists.”

Tunisia has been the stage of several terrorist operations since 2011, some committed by jihadi groups affiliated with al-Qaeda such as Uqba Bin Nafi Battalion and others by groups pledging allegiance to the the Islamic State. These terrorist acts have claimed the lives of more than 220 security officers and soldiers and 98 civilians, as per a survey conducted by local website Inkyfada. The latest of such attacks targeted a military vehicle in Jebel Samama, in the west of the country, and killed three soldiers in August 2016.

Political analyst and journalist Abdel Sattar al-Aidi told Al-Monitor, “Granting security and military officers the right to vote in local and municipal elections only — rather than in legislative and presidential elections — constitutes a good test for their discipline and commitment to complete neutrality in politics. At the same time, it allows them to enjoy their right of citizenship, especially given that the constitution affirms total and indiscriminate equality — including professional indiscrimination — between citizens and guarantees all Tunisians the right to vote.”

Aidi added, “The assessment of the upcoming municipal elections will be important and useful. If the country finds it difficult to maintain the military and security institutions’ neutrality after granting their members the right to vote, the law will be amended and the article that allows them to vote will be annulled. You never know until you try. If need be, the new electoral law will be amended to suit the needs of society and the state.”

Fida Nasrallah, the director of the Carter Center in Tunisia, which had specialized in electoral monitoring, supervising the drafting process of the constitution and putting in place the elections’ legal framework, told Al-Monitor in a previous interview Oct. 12, “Depriving them [military officers and internal security staff] of their right runs contrary to the international obligations of the Republic of Tunisia under the international covenant of the United Nations on civil and political rights. In addition, it is contrary to Article 21 and Article 34 of the Tunisian Constitution.”

Nasrallah said in the same interview, “The fear that the army will not remain neutral and that the vote may be manipulated is an obsession shared by many countries. But these concerns can be reduced by adopting certain measures, not by categorically denying the rights of the armed forces.” The Carter Center had urged the Tunisian parliament in a statement Sept. 28 to grant the military and security forces the right to vote.

The Islamist Ennahda movement first objected to granting military and security officials the right to vote in elections, only to vote later in favor of the new law Jan. 31. Apparently, Islamists are sensitive to the military institution, given its history in the region. In Egypt, for instance, former Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohammed Morsi was toppled by his defense minister, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on July 3, 2013. In Turkey, a group of army officers spearheaded the failed coup attempt against Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, 2016.

When the electoral law deliberations took flight in September, former officers in the Tunisian army objected, sayting this could potentially cause division in the security and army ranks. Meanwhile, secular parties, especially the Popular Front, which includes 11 parties; leftist, environmental and national groups; and the liberal Afek Tounes Party welcomed the law.

The upcoming elections will be the basis for deciding whether allowing the military and security officers to vote in municipal and local elections was the right thing to do. Still, the concerns of the opponents of this law are justified. Involving the security and military institutions in political life — even if for a good cause — might risk the future of a country still treading carefully toward democracy while fighting an open war against terrorist groups on its eastern borders with Libya and western borders with Algeria. But, at the same time, the upcoming elections will practically test the internal security and military institutions’ ability to maintain their discipline and respect for the neutrality principle stipulated by the constitution while practicing their right to vote.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Young Palestinian Man Dies From Wounds Suffered In 2005

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The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Thursday, that a young man died at an Egyptian hospital from serious wounds he suffered after Israeli soldiers shot him in 2005, near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

The Ministry said Samed Fahmi Abu Shanab, 29, suffered various injuries, including paralysis, after the soldiers shot him in the spine, and suffered numerous complications afterwards, eventually leading to a kidney failure.

It added that Abu Shanab was eventually moved to an Egyptian hospital for treatment, where he was awaiting a Kidney transplant surgery, but died from serious complications.

Media sources in Gaza said Abu Shanab was shot near a former Israeli colony, prior to the Israeli military withdrawal and evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 18.02.2017)

Gaza doctor seeks justice in Israeli court

Izzeldin Abuelaish’s lawsuit is finally set to be heard, years after the Israeli army killed his daughters in Gaza.

‘I am accountable and will remain until the last breath in my life, accountable to them,’ Abuelaish says of his slain daughters

The walls of Izzeldin Abuelaish’s office at the University of Toronto are covered in photographs, but one, in particular, stands out.

Three of his daughters, Bessan, Mayar and Aya, sit on a beach in the Gaza Strip. The tide is out, and the girls – aged 13, 15 and 20 – have written their names in big letters on the sand. Mayar is barefoot, Aya looks directly at the camera, and Bessan smiles widely as she gazes over her name.

For Abuelaish, the image is a reminder of the promise he made them.

“I am determined to bring my daughters justice,” the 62-year-old Palestinian doctor told Al Jazeera, his voice both confident and hopeful. After years of fighting, his case will finally be heard before an Israeli court next month.

INTERACTIVE: 24 Hours in Gaza

Only a few weeks after this photo was taken, Israel’s brutal 2008-09 war on the Gaza Strip was nearing its end. On January 16, 2009, Israeli army tanks shelled the Abuelaish family home in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing Bessan, Mayar, Aya and their 17-year-old cousin, Noor.

“When they were killed, I swore to God, I swore to my daughters, I will never give up. I will never rest,” Abuelaish told Al Jazeera.

Abuelaish’s daughters, Bessan, Mayar and Aya, were killed by Israeli shelling in 2009

“From the early days, I said [that] if I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept it. They were not the last, and that makes me sad, even angry: What can I do more?”

Abuelaish’s wife had recently passed away from leukaemia when Israel began the deadly, three-week assault on Gaza. By the end of the war, as many as 1,400 Palestinians were killed, the majority of whom were civilians.

Human rights groups documented the Israeli army’s use of white phosphorous munitions on crowded, populated areas of Gaza during the war, along with targeting of civilian infrastructure. The United Nations accused Israel of committing widespread human rights abuses, including potential war crimes, and of using “disproportionate force” to harm Palestinian civilians.

In the case of Abuelaish’s home, the Israeli army said at the time that soldiers were returning fire into areas from where they had been fired upon. The army later said that it thought it saw Hamas “spotters” near Abuelaish’s house.

READ MORE: Gaza’s cancer patients – ‘We are dying slowly’

Abuelaish was not satisfied with this explanation, but his attempt to get the Israeli government to take responsibility and apologise for the deaths of his daughters and his niece was fruitless. Instead, Israeli authorities initially described his loved ones as “collateral damage”, he said.

“It’s unethical to speak about a human being as collateral damage … We must delete this word from being connected with a human being,” he said. “This was more painful to me because the wound was open and still bleeding, as if we were adding salt to the wound.”

‘I appeal to every human being to join us in this mission to give hope and life from death,’ says Abuelaish, pictured above with his family

Almost two years after his daughters were killed, at the end of December 2010, Abuelaish took his fight for accountability to the Israeli courts, where he filed a civil lawsuit demanding an official apology. A year later, Abuelaish said he was forced to pay a 20,000-shekel bond ($5,300) for each of his daughters and his niece, in order for the case to be heard.

The hearings will finally take place this year in a court in Beer Sheva, in southern Israel, on March 15 and 19.

Abuelaish said that any compensation he is awarded would be used to establish schools in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Afghanistan and Canada through the charity he has created in the memory of his children: the Daughters for Life Foundation.

Abuelaish and his surviving children moved to Canada in 2009, shortly after the tragedy. He now works as an associate professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Toronto. In late 2015, all of his family members were granted Canadian citizenship.

IN PICTURES: Gaza in the dark

“I appeal to every human being to join us in this mission to give hope and life from death,” Abuelaish said. “This foundation is dedicated to give hope to the world and to prove also this tragedy [could lead to something] good.”

He has called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support his lawsuit and to send a letter to the Israeli government supporting his demand for an apology. A spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs told Al Jazeera that the government does not comment on civil lawsuits between private individuals and a foreign state.

But Abuelaish has not lost hope, nor given up on the prospect of finally getting justice for his loved ones.

“This will never take from my determination to move forward,” he said. “This anger, [I want it] to be used as a fuel to do more – not to be defeated, not to be broken, not to give up or forget my beloved daughters, because I am accountable and will remain until the last breath in my life, accountable to them.”

(Source / 18.02.2017)