Gaza doctor tragedy central in Israeli stage show

Tue Nov 8, 2011 9:58am EST
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By Ori Lewis

ACRE, Israel (Reuters) - An Israeli mother-and-daughter play performed at a recent theater festival climaxed with the tale of the killing of a Gaza doctor's family, a 2009 event that brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict deep into Israeli living rooms.

"Explosive: War tourism" culminated with the sounds of an audio recording of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish's cries, heard live at the time on Israeli TV, as he pleaded in a phone call to an Israeli reporter friend asking him to get the army to stop shooting at his house.

Three of Abuelaish's daughters and a niece were killed by a tank shell during Israel's December 2008-January 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The annual Acco (Acre) Festival of Alternative Israeli Theater held in the Mediterranean coastal town in northern Israel is a haven for unconventional shows, and the performance by Naomi Yoeli and her daughter, Galia, was no exception.

"It is a very painful performance about an impossible situation of violence," said Galia Yoeli, who with mother Naomi, provided a snapshot of how Israeli-Palestinian relations have evolved over decades of conflict.

Israel investigated the killings and acknowledged that two tank shells had hit Abuelaish's house in Jabalya refugee camp. But it said the action was "reasonable" because two suspected militants were spotted on the house's upper level.

About 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed in the war Israel launched with the declared aim of curbing cross-border rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

Since the tragedy, Abuelaish, a gynecologist who had worked for years at some of Israel's top hospitals, moved to Canada with the surviving members of his family. He wrote a book "I shall not hate," about his story.   Continued...