Israeli TV airs Gaza doctor's desperate pleas

JERUSALEM Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:24pm EST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli television broadcast desperate cries for help from a Palestinian doctor on Friday after his children were killed in an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip and troops later helped surviving members of the family.

The telephone calls created extraordinary scenes during evening news broadcasts as the doctor, a Hebrew-speaking physician who spoke regularly on Israeli television, said three of his children were killed in a tank strike and others were wounded.

"My girls were sitting at home planning their futures, talking, then suddenly they are being shelled," he said in a voice shaking with emotion. "I want to know why they were killed, who gave the order?"

Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish is a gynecologist who worked in one of Israel's main hospitals before Gazans were effectively sealed off behind an Israeli-led blockade on the Hamas-controlled enclave. He often gave interviews to Channel 10 television.

With Israeli journalists unable to report from the Gaza Strip independently, Aboul Aish acted as a Hebrew-speaking witness who told of the Palestinian civilians' suffering under fire during Israel's three-week-old offensive there.

The deaths of more than 1,150 Palestinians, some 700 of them civilians by one independent count, have left the Israeli public largely unmoved. An overwhelming majority backs a war to end Hamas rocket fire that, before the offensive, had killed 18 people and disrupted life in southern towns over recent years.

Channel 10 correspondent Shlomi Eldar, who said he had planned a live on-air interview with Aboul Aish on Friday evening, produced a mobile phone in the studio, letting viewers here the voice of Aboul Aish: "My God, my girls, Shlomi," he said. "Can't anybody get to us, please?"

Eldar told his audience: "They have killed his family."

He said three of Aboul Aish's children were killed and two were seriously wounded. Building up the sense of drama, cameras followed him as left the studio, saying he would try to help arrange for their transfer for treatment, and safety, in Israel.

Surviving members of the family were later shown being transferred to Israeli ambulances and taken out of Gaza. Aid agencies have complained that Israel has not done enough to help Gaza's hospitals and allow the transfer of some wounded people.

Aboul Aish's brother was also wounded and Eldar said two of his brother's children had also been killed in the incident.

The Israeli army said troops fired on Aboul Aish's house because a sniper had fired on soldiers from the building.

Aboul Aish responded: "All that was ever fired out of our house was love, hugs and acts of peace, nothing else, ever."

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

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