“The colonialists think that if you have enough weapons and you have enough ambitions, you can conquer the world.” So says world renowned medical practitioner, Dr Mads Gilbert, who addressed a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Dr Gilbert made headlines when he wrote an open letter to the world’s most influential leaders, describing the awful conditions at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where he served during Israel’s nearly two month long military campaign. He is currently in South Africa as the guest of honour at a fundraising dinner by Cii Projects, who are seeking to raise funds towards the purchasing of much needed ambulances for Gaza.
Speaking to VOC’s Drivetime, Dr Gilbert said there was a huge moral and political issue surrounding the topic of Palestinian refugees, noting that the displacement of Palestinians was embedded in Israel’s occupation process. In recent years, thousands of Palestinians have resorted to fleeing to refugee camps in neighboring countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
According to Dr Gilbert, one of the core issues surrounding the plight of the Palestinian people was that Zionism was proving itself to be a new, more aggressive, and brutal form of Apartheid. He noted the structure of Zionist front in Israel was solely based on dissimilarities between Israelis and Palestinians, and the subsequent division of the two populations.
“If you look at the most significant physical representation of this division, of course it is the Apartheid wall on the West Bank, which has been judged to be totally illegal according to international law. It is also the encircling, strangulation, and the beseeching of 1.8 million people in Gaza,” he explained.
Dr Gilbert hailed the attitude and resistance shown by the Palestinian population, despite constant attempts by the Israeli government to break their spirit. He praised them for standing tall in the face of constant airstrikes, and refusing to change their values to appease the Israeli occupiers.
“Even in the middle of the bombings, they behave, and they great you with friendliness and great hospitality. The day after the bombings stopped, they started cleaning their bombed houses up to find their pictures and jewelry. They are very decisive about rebuilding their bombed houses,” he noted.
Despite the worldwide misconception that Zionism and Judaism were one and the safe, Dr Gilbert insisted this was not the case. He insisted that Judaism was filled with many of the same positive qualities as Christianity and Islam. However, he acknowledged that the legacy of the Israel people had been somewhat captured by Zionism.
“The only way for them to truly be free is to liberate themselves from Zionism,” he said.
Despite an agreement being reached between Hamas and Israel for an open-ended ceasefire, Dr Gilbert stressed it was not an end to the core issue at hand, which was the illegal 47 year occupation of Palestine.
“Until the Israeli government is forced to, by democratic, legal and political means, start renegotiating towards the end of the occupation, we will not have a final solution,” he insisted.
Dr Mads Gilbert will be in the country until the end of August. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)