‘I will never forget my daughters. I believe one day I will meet them and I am accountable to God and to them and they will ask me: what did you do for us?’
The Independent Voices
Rarely can history have dictated that the blood of three beheaded daughters should be injected into a vein of hope. The operation, I suppose, was self-administered by the stout little man with thick, matted hair sitting in front of me in an upper floor of the University of Toronto’s medical centre. I might even call Izzeldin Abuelaish stubborn, save for his awesome courage and his instant invitation for coffee and dates. He welcomes visitors to his fifth floor office with a large coloured photograph on the opposite wall which has the dignity and objectivity of an Impressionist painting.
It shows his three daughters, Mayar, Aya and Bessan, sitting on a blustery Gaza beach in the early new year of 2009. Mayar, in a white scarf and looking slightly to her right, Aya in the middle in a woollen cap, Bessan also in a scarf, almost full length, resting on her right hand, looking at her own name, in English, which she has drawn in the sand. As her father said to me, every time the tide came in, it erased their names and they wrote them again. Two weeks after the photographs was taken, they will be with their father Izzeldin in their Gaza home when Israeli tank shells smash into the house. I don’t ask Izzeldin to repeat what happened next. He told the story, eloquently, terribly, unanswerably in the months that followed. Mayar appeared to be the first to die. This is how he described the events when he spoke at the Karachi Literary Festival:
“I can’t recognise my daughters. Their heads were cut off their bodies. They were separated from their bodies and I can’t recognise whose body is this. They were drowning in a pool of blood… This is their brain. These are parts of their brain. Aya was lying on the ground. Shatha [another daughter] was injured and her eye is coming out. Her fingers were torn, just attached by a tag of skin. I felt disloved [sic], out of space, screaming… The second shell soon came to kill Aya, to injure my niece who came down from the third floor, and to kill my eldest daughter Bessan, who was in the kitchen and came at that moment, screaming and jumping, ‘Dad! Dad! Aya is injured.’” This took place at 4.45 pm on 16 January 2009. Bessan was 21, Mayar 15, Aya 13.
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/gaza-israel-palestine-middle-east-izzeldin-abuelaish-daughters-killed-hope-robert-fisk-a8621971.htmlIzzeldin Abuelaish pictured in his office at the University of Toronto. He took the Israelis to court after the death of his children. ( Nelofer Pazira )