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‘Don’t turn your back on Palestine’: Dr Mads

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“There is no military solution, only a political one. Stop the siege, stop the bombing. Include the Palestinian people.” This was the call by Norwegian physician and activist, Dr Mads Gilbert, who has vowed to resist an Israeli imposed ban against him visiting the Gaza Strip. Gilbert lambasted the Israeli government over a lack of clarity on the reasons for the ban, with authorities reluctant to divulge anything more than him posing a potential “security risk”.

Gilbert has made headlines for his humanitarian work in the conflict-hit region, working as a surgeon at the Al-Shifa Hospital. In recent years, he has been travelling in and out of Gaza as a representative of the University Hospital of North Norway.

Speaking exclusively to VOC’s Drivetime on Monday, Gilbert explained his shock at being denied entry to Gaza during his most recent visit, on the 1st October. Standing at the border crossing into the region, he said he was denied access on security reasons, despite being in possession of an Israeli approved, multiple entry permit.

“I also had the invitation from the Palestinian Minister of Health, and I had a letter of recommendation from my hospital director,” he noted.

Having then requested to speak with the commander in charge at the border, he was then denied information in the nature of the reported security issues. Gilbert said the commander had then threatened to call the police, should he refuse to leave the border premises.

“What I did was call my embassy which has been very helpful, and they have enquired from the Israeli authorities. They maintain only that they have a security issue, and that this decision is taken by the Israeli security authorities,” he said.

The Norwegian government has been notably vocal and clear in their condemnation of the ban, outright rejecting it and further requesting Israeli authorities to have the ban immediately lifted.

“I dont think this is about me. This is about the Palestinian people and their right to get help.”

However, Gilbert refused to consider the ban a personal blow, but rather a violation of the rights of Gazans to have access to the international community, particularly in terms of humanitarian support.

“We know the situation in Gaza is extremely difficult. Its 1.7 million people, the majority children, who are incarcerated and have been bombed. The society and the healthcare system are in ruins, and they actually need all the support they can get from the international community,” he said.

Despite the issues, he vowed to do his utmost to try and fight the ban, insisting that the international community could not turn its back against the people of Palestine.

“I think it is time the world stands up and says enough is enough. We’ve had enough of Israeli impunity, and we as humanitarian workers want the Palestinian people to have the same security and same good life that Israeli’s have,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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