Israel's Top Court Rejects Palestinian Doctor's Appeal Over Daughters Killed in Gaza

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Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish bursting into tears in Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, following the death of three daughters during an Israel attack in the Gaza Strop, January 2009
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish bursting into tears in Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, following the death of three daughters during an Israel attack in the Gaza Strip, January 2009.Credit: Ranaan Cohen / AP

Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal from a Palestinian man who was seeking an apology from Israel over a 2009 tank strike that killed three of his daughters and a niece in the Gaza Strip.

The ruling dashed the hopes of Izzeldin Abuelaish, who has been on a 13-year campaign to seek justice for what he says was a terrible mistake by the Israeli military.

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In its decision, the court upheld a lower court's ruling in favor of the military. The Israeli government has argued that the military is not liable for wartime actions.

“Our hearts go out to the appellant,” the Supreme Court justices wrote in their ruling Wednesday. However, they said there was “no answer and remedy within the scope of the proceedings before us.”

Israel has long acknowledged that one of its tanks killed Abuelaish's three daughters and niece during a three-week offensive against Palestinian militants.

But it argued successfully in a lower court in 2018 that the deaths of  Abuelaish's daughters Mayar, 15, Ayah, 13, and Bessan, 21, and his niece Nour, 14, stemmed from an "act of war", thereby shielding the state from damages claims.

At the hearing in Jerusalem, a lawyer for the Israeli Defense Ministry again cited the "act of war" argument. An attorney for Abuelaish said the military should be seen as criminally negligent, leaving the state open to damage claims.

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