June 9, 2011, Updated September 12, 2012
BGU award winners

Photo by Dani Machlis/BGU
BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi with Safa Abu Hani, Amalya Ze’evi and Ma’ayan Givoni at the Daughter For Life awards ceremony.

Ben-Gurion University students Amalya Ze’evi, a third year student in the Department of Politics and Government and the Department of Education, Ma’ayan Givoni, a third year student in the Department of Management and the Department of Psychology, and Safa Abu Hani, a sixth year medical student at the Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School, are the first recipients of the new Daughters for Life Foundation awards.

Daughters for Life was created by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish in memory of his three daughters, Bessan, Mayar and Aya, who were tragically killed on January 16, 2009 when an IDF tank shell hit their home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza during the waning days of Operation Cast Lead. The awards aim to provide young women in the Middle East with education and health opportunities.

Dr. Abuelaish did his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Soroka University Medical Center and taught at BGU’s Medical School for International Health. He is currently a professor at the University of Toronto.

“Only someone with the incredible personality of Izzeldin, with his deep commitment to bridging the two peoples, would be able to turn his own personal tragedy into such a positive force,” BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi said.

In addition to their studies, the three BGU recipients partake in community service. They all serve as role models and mentors for young women in need of encouragement to pursue their dreams and reach their highest potential.

The three recipients received a cash prize of $1,000, a certificate and a plaque.

According to the Daughters For Life Foundation, the awards are given out to outstanding students in the fields of medicine, law, education, journalism and business, for their “demonstrated academic excellence, creativity, compassion, a developed sense of humanity, the overcoming of adversity, devotion to improving the circumstances of girls and women and financial hardship.” Those four fields were the ones in which Dr. Abuelaish’s daughters had expressed interest before their deaths.

In total, 35 awards will be distributed at 10 universities in Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In Israel, awards will be distributed at BGU and Haifa University.

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