The things we do.

Suddenly, there was a monstrous explosion: "a thundering, fulminating sound," says Abuelaish, that penetrated his body, almost as if it were coming from within him. There was a blinding flash, and then it was pitch dark. Dust everywhere, the struggle to breathe, the sound of a child screaming: these are the things he remembers, and always will. In the next few moments, it dawned on him that a shell had hit his daughters' bedroom. He ran towards it. "I saw everything," he says. "My children in parts. A decapitated head. And Shatha in front of me, with her eye on her cheek." The room was now a heaped mess of school books, dolls and body parts. Mayar, Aya, and his niece, Noor, were dead, their limbs strewn about the place as carelessly as their toys. Shatha was bleeding profusely from her hand, one finger hanging by a thread. Then came a second blast. This took Bessan. Ghaida, his brother Atta's daughter, who had run up the stairs from their apartment towards the noise, lay on the floor, wounds all over her body. Abuelaish looked at all this, and inside him, something stirred. A desire to fight pushed his shock, which should have been so paralysing, out of the way with unexpected force. "I thought: what can I do? And I started moving, fast. I thought of Shatha. I didn't want her to be blind, to lose her fingers. I didn't want that. Then I looked at my son. He has lost his sisters. Now what is he going to do? How can I protect him? Is he going to be an extremist, to be crazy, to hate the world?" These thoughts, he insists, are not retrospective. Truly. His brain was working overtime. "I started to think. What can I do for those who are living?"


Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish: '"We saved lives," I told the children. "Your sisters' blood wasn't wasted'''
Two years ago, Israeli shells fell on Dr Abuelaish's family home in Gaza, killing three of his young daughters and their cousin. The horror was caught live on Israeli TV when the doctor phoned his broadcaster friend. Amazingly, the loss did not embitter Izzeldin Abuelaish. Instead he decided his girls' deaths must not be in vain – and slowly he has turned his family tragedy into a force for peace

Rachel Cooke - Observer 16/01/2011