Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, who lost three daughters and a niece in an Israel Defense Forces strike in the Gaza Strip last month, responded Wednesday to an IDF statement confirming that it was Israeli fire that killed his daughters, thanking those responsible for investigating the incident and saying that "we all make mistakes, and we don't repeat them."
Abu al-Aish, a father of eight, became one of the symbols of the Gaza offensive for Israelis after he captivated TV viewers with a sobbing live report on the death of his three daughters and his niece in Israeli shelling. The 55-year-old gynecologist trained in Israeli hospitals and speaks Hebrew.
The IDF announced earlier Wednesday that an investigation into the January 16 incident confirmed that it had been Israeli fire that killed the four girls.
"First of all, I would like to thank all those who worked, and had the courage and good conscience to shed light on the truth that I always believed. Thank you to everyone who took upon themselves to publicize this truth seeking investigation," Abu al-Aish said in an interview with Channel 2.
The Palestinian doctor went on to say "I have two options - the path of darkness or the path of light. The path of darkness is like choosing all the complications with diseases and depression, but the path of light is to focus on the future and my children. This strengthened my conviction to continue on the same path and not to give up."
Abu al-Aish did not neglect to thank the Israelis who met with him and offered him strength, saying "the love that I've received, from people I knew and people I didn't know, gave me strength."
The IDF released the conclusions of its investigation into the incident earlier Wednesday, explaining that Golani troops had been fired upon by snipers situated in the house adjacent to Abu al-Aish's home. The troops identified suspicious figures in the upper levels of the doctor's building, and deduced that they were serving as observers, directing the sniper fire from their vantage point.
Following long deliberations and assessments of the situation, the Golani commander decided to fire tank shells at the building, and when the soldiers heard the screams and realized civilians had been hit, they helped evacuate them, the investigation revealed.
The army argues further that the residents of the neighborhood were urged to evacuate the area prior to the attack via thousands of leaflets that were disseminated in the area, and that the doctor was personally asked by phone to evacuate his family from the neighborhood due to the fighting.
Abu al-Aish denied that there were any militants in the building at the time of the shelling.
The IDF spokesman's office issued a statement extending the IDF's condolences over the incident, but maintaining that the IDF operated within reason in light of the sniper fire directed at the troops and the heavy fighting in the region.
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