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‘Gaza doctor’ to speak about loss, peace at UMA lecture

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA — The Palestinian physician known as the “the Gaza doctor” after the anguish over the deaths of his three daughters was broadcast around the world will speak at 11 a.m. Friday, April 1, in Jewett Auditorium at the University of Maine Augusta.

The lecture by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is sponsored by UMA’s Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies Program.

Abuelaish won the 2010 Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award and was nominated the same year for the Nobel Peace Prize.

His book, “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey,” was published last year. In it, he calls for the people of the Middle East to talk to one another.

Abuelaish, 55, is a Palestinian doctor and infertility expert who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Two months after his wife died of leukemia, three of his daughters were killed on Jan. 16, 2009, when Israeli shells hit the family’s home in the Gaza Strip.

Seeking medical help, he called a friend who worked for an Israeli television station. The doctor’s anguished cries for help were broadcast live in Israel and rebroadcast around the globe.

Two days later, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced a ceasefire in the conflict after reportedly hearing the father’s grief on television.

Abuelaish told the New York Times earlier this year that the deaths of his daughters — Bessan, 20, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 14 — “immunized me against any more suffering.”

The doctor now lives with his five remaining children in Toronto, where he is an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

In memory of his daughters, he started a charitable foundation, Daughters for Life, to memorialize the girls and promote health and education among girls in the Middle East. The proceeds from his book sales will go to the foundation.

“If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss,” Abuelaish has said.

For information on the lecture, call 621-3256 or visit

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