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        Weekend Edition November 14-16, 2014<br>
<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/14/israel-bans-renowned-doctor-and-human-rights-activist-mads-gilbert-from-entering-gaza-for-life/">http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/14/israel-bans-renowned-doctor-and-human-rights-activist-mads-gilbert-from-entering-gaza-for-life/</a><br>
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      <div class="subheadlinestyle">Solidarity Not Pity</div>
      <h1 class="article-title">Israel Bans Renowned Doctor and Human
        Rights Activist Mads Gilbert from Entering Gaza for Life</h1>
      <div class="mainauthorstyle">by BEN NORTON</div>
      <div class="main-text">
        <p>Israel <a
href="http://www.thelocal.no/20141114/israel-shuts-gilbert-out-from-gaza-for-life"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.thelocal.no']);">has
            banned</a> Norwegian doctor and human rights activist Mads
          Gilbert from entering Gaza for life.</p>
        <p>Gilbert, a professor at the University Hospital of North
          Norway, where he has worked since 1976, earned international
          renown for his philanthropic work in late 2008, during
          Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, an attack that, <a
href="http://www.btselem.org/statistics/fatalities/during-cast-lead/by-date-of-event"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.btselem.org']);">according
            to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem</a>, killed
          roughly 1,400 Gazans, including almost 800 civilians, 350 of
          whom were children.</p>
        <p>The aid worker, along with fellow Norwegian doctor Erik
          Fosse, decided to volunteer in Gaza as soon as he heard that
          bombing had started, on 27 December 2008. Thanks to diplomatic
          and economic support (in the sum of $1 million dollar of
          emergency funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign
          Affairs), the two physicians managed to arrive in the strip by
          30 December.</p>
        <p>The Israeli government prevented all international press from
          entering Gaza during Cast Lead (a documentary, <a
            href="http://thewararoundus.com/filmmakers"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://thewararoundus.com']);"><em>The
              War Around Us</em></a>, was made about the only two
          foreign reporters in the strip at the time), in <a
href="http://www.indypendent.org/2010/02/12/eyewitness-gaza-interview-dr-mads-gilbert#sthash.xbZ5aQsF.dpuf"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.indypendent.org']);">what
            Gilbert called</a> Israel’s insidious “PR plan.” The doctor,
          as one of the only international aid workers in Gaza, thus
          devoted considerable time to speaking with local Palestinian
          news outlets, some of whom were reporting on behalf of foreign
          networks including BBC, CNN, ABC, and Al Jazeera.</p>
        <p><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7812547.stm"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://news.bbc.co.uk']);">BBC
            aired an interview with Gilbert</a>, conducted in the
          hospital. The questions asked, and the answers garnered, were
          eerily similar to those he would give just five years later,
          during Operation Protective Edge. The interviewer began asking
          him to respond to Israel’s claims that it was not targeting
          civilians, that it was only attacking Hamas militants. Gilbert
          called the claim “an absolutely stupid statement” and
          explained that, among the hundreds of patients he had seen at
          that point, only two had been fighters. The “large majority”
          were women, children, and men civilians. “These numbers are
          contradictory to everything Israel says,” he reported.</p>
        <p>Gilbert drew attention to the fact that the overflowing
          hospital did not have enough supplies to treat all of its
          patients, and censured the international community for doing
          nothing to assist them. Israel would not let in foreign
          doctors, and yet Palestinians were “dying waiting for
          surgery.” “This is a complete disaster,” he remarked, calling
          it “the worst man-made disaster” he could think of. “There are
          injuries you just don’t want to see in this world.”</p>
        <p><strong>Operation Protective Edge</strong></p>
        <p>In 2008 and 2009, Gilbert treated Palestinians who had been
          grievously wounded by Israel’s use of experimental and illegal
          chemical weapons, including <a
            href="http://www.hrw.org/fr/node/81821"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.hrw.org']);">white
            phosphorous</a>, <a
href="http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/14/white_phosphorous_and_dense_inert_metal"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.democracynow.org']);">dense
            inert metal explosives (DIME) munitions</a>, and <a
href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/israel-using-flechette-shells-in-gaza"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.theguardian.com']);">flechette
            shells</a>. In July 2014, in the midst of Israel’s most
          recent attack on Gaza, Gilbert <a
href="http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israel-firing-experimental-weapons-gazas-civilians-say-doctors"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://electronicintifada.net']);">spoke
            with <em>Electronic Intifada</em></a>, revealing that he
          saw indications of renewed use of DIME weapons and flechettes.</p>
        <p>While volunteering in Shifa hospital, Gaza’s principal
          medical facility, Gilbert <a
href="http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/israelgaza-conflict-mr-obama-do-you-have-a-heart-spend-one-night-with-us-in-gaza-it-would-change-history-norwegian-doctor-mads-gilberts-open-letter-evokes-conditions-in-shifa-hospital-30452235.html"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk']);">penned
            an open letter</a>, lamenting the unspeakable horrors the
          Israeli military was instigating.</p>
        <blockquote>
          <p>[Israel's] “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and
            carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering,
            dying… All sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all
            civilians, all innocent.</p>
          <p>The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals
            are working 12 to 24‑hour shifts, grey from fatigue and
            inhuman workloads (without payment in Shifa for the last
            four months). They care, triage, try to understand the
            incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not
            walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding
            humans. Humans!
…
Ashy grey faces – Oh no! not one more load
            of tens of maimed and bleeding. We still have lakes of blood
            on the floor in the emergency room, piles of dripping,
            blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners,
            everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded
            tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death
            – all taken away… to be prepared again, to be repeated all
            over.</p>
          <p>More than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hours.
            Enough for a large well-trained hospital with everything,
            but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables,
            drugs, operating-room tables, instruments, monitors – all
            rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s
            hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes.</p>
          <p>Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army
            in the world.”</p>
        </blockquote>
        <p>The doctor directed one heart-wrenching passage to President
          Obama, writing “Mr Obama – do you have a heart? I invite you –
          spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. I am
          convinced, 100 per cent, it would change history. Nobody with
          a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa
          without being determined to end the slaughter of the
          Palestinian people.”</p>
        <p>Israel later attacked Shifa hospital. Doctors Without Borders
          (MSF) “strongly condemn[ed]” the incursion, saying it
          “demonstrate[d] how civilians in Gaza have nowhere safe to
          go.” MSF director Marie-Noëlle Rodrigue <a
href="http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news-stories/press-release/gaza-msf-strongly-condemns-attack-al-shifa-hospital"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org']);">stated,
            in an official statement</a>, “When the Israeli army orders
          civilians to evacuate their houses and their neighborhoods,
          where is there for them to go? Gazans have no freedom of
          movement and cannot take refuge outside Gaza. They are
          effectively trapped.” Shifa was one of the over 10 medical
          facilities Israel bombed in its 50-day offensive.</p>
        <p><strong>Human Rights Work</strong></p>
        <p>In 2000, <a
            href="http://www.nordlys.no/kultur/article303781.ece"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.nordlys.no']);">Gilbert
            made headlines</a> for saving the life of a skier who had
          been trapped in sub-zero water. She had been pronounced
          clinically dead, with a body temperature of 57 °F, but Gilbert
          managed to revive her. For his service, Gilbert was awarded
          the Northern Norwegian of the Year award.</p>
        <p>Before Operation Protective Edge commenced in early July
          2014, Gilbert toured medical and health facilities and
          individual homes in Gaza, researching for a United Nations
          Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
          East (UNRWA) <a
href="http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/final_report_-_gaza_health_sector_june-july_2014_-_mads_gilbert_2.pdf"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','download','http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/final_report_-_gaza_health_sector_june-july_2014_-_mads_gilbert_2.pdf']);">report
            on the dire state of the strip’s health sector</a>. He wrote
          of “overstretched” health facilities, widespread physical and
          psychological trauma, “a deep financial crisis,” a lack of
          needed medical supplies, and a “severe energy crisis.” He also
          noted the “devastating results of the blockade imposed by the
          Government of Israel,” with rampant poverty, a 38.5%
          unemployment rate, food insecurity in at least 57% of
          households, and inadequate access to clean water. All of these
          already extreme ills were only exacerbated by the July-August
          Israeli assault on Gaza, an onslaught that left roughly 2,200
          Palestinians dead, including over 1,500 civilians, more than
          500 of whom were children.</p>
        <p>Gilbert is not the only one Israel has recently prevented
          from entering Gaza. In August, just after the end of its
          military assault, Israel refused to allow Amnesty
          International and Human Rights Watch, the world’s leading
          human rights organizations, from entering the strip, impeding
          them from conducting war crimes investigations. The
          organizations had been requesting access for over a month,
          before Israel had even begun its ground invasion of Gaza, yet
          were continuously prevented from doing so, <a
            href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.611015"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.haaretz.com']);">Israeli
            journalist Amira Hass reported in <em>Haaretz</em></a>,
          “using various bureaucratic excuses.”</p>
        <p>Israel has banned Human Right Watch investigators from
          entering Gaza since 2006; Amnesty International has been
          refused access since 2012. Dr. Mads Gilbert is the latest
          esteemed <em>persona non grata</em> to be added to this
          growing list.</p>
        <p><strong>Solidarity, Not Pity</strong></p>
        <p>Other aid workers and medical professionals have faced even
          worse consequences for volunteering to help Palestinians. In
          August, <a
            href="http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/twilight-zone/.premium-1.610619"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.haaretz.com']);">Israeli
            occupation forces killed a social worker</a>. In the same
          month, as the Israeli military engaged in a campaign to target
          and openly murder Palestinian civilians who spoke Hebrew, <a
href="http://www.alternet.org/world/israel-put-trial-war-crimes?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.alternet.org']);">Israeli
            forces assassinated volunteers working with the Palestine
            Red Crescent</a>, a non-profit humanitarian organization,
          part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.</p>
        <p>A common myth suggests that Israel ended its occupation of
          Gaza with its 2005 disengagement. The state’s ability to ban,
          and even kill, internationally recognized human rights
          organizations and doctors—not to mention <a
href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/17/israeli-military-calorie-limit-gaza"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.theguardian.com']);">food</a>,
          <a
href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-23/next-gaza-disaster-after-war-with-israel-no-cement-for-rebuilding"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.businessweek.com']);">construction
            equipment</a>, and <a
href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/suffocating-gaza-israeli-blockades-effects-palestinians-2010-06-01"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.amnesty.org']);">medical
            supplies</a>—from entering Palestinian territory, however,
          demonstrates that Gaza is by no means autonomous. Israel’s
          siege of the strip is clearly a continuation of its
          47-year-long illegal military occupation.</p>
        <p>As legal scholar <a
href="http://www.thenation.com/article/180783/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.thenation.com']);">Noura
            Erakat explains</a></p>
        <blockquote>
          <p>Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military
            infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel
            maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and thus
            remains the occupying power as defined by Article 47 of the
            Hague Regulations. To date, Israel maintains control of the
            territory’s air space, territorial waters, electromagnetic
            sphere, population registry and the movement of all goods
            and people.
…
Palestinians have yet to experience a day of
            self-governance. Israel immediately imposed a siege upon the
            Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January
            2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas routed Fatah in
            June 2007. The siege has created a “<a
href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.theguardian.com']);">humanitarian
              catastrophe</a>” in the Gaza Strip. Inhabitants will not
            be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even
            the most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization
            explains that the Gaza Strip will be <a
href="http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/gaza-2020-liveable-place"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.unrwa.org']);">unlivable</a>
            by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation, it has
            created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in
            the long-term.</p>
          <p>In his July interview with <em>Electronic Intifada</em>,
            Gilbert made it clear that his work as a medical
            professional cannot be done—the Palestinian people cannot
            live healthy, yet alone free, lives—while Israel continues
            its illegal siege and occupation. “As a doctor, my
            prescription is very clear. Number one, stop the bombing,
            and that means stop Israel from bombing civilians and
            indiscriminately hitting families. Number two, lift the
            siege. And number three, find a political solution,” he
            stated.</p>
        </blockquote>
        <p>In a <a
href="http://www.dailytargum.com/article/2014/10/doctor-shares-experience-in-gaza"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.dailytargum.com']);">late
            October discussion</a> with the <em>Daily Targum</em>,
          Gilbert encouraged Americans to do what they can to speak out
          against Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade of the
          Palestinian territories, and to pressure their government to
          stop its indefatigable support for Israeli crimes.</p>
        <p>At present, the US provides Israel with over 3.1$ billion of
          military aid per year. In the past 52 years, <a
            href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.611001"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.haaretz.com']);">over
            $100 billion US tax dollars</a> have been given to the
          country in military aid alone.</p>
        <p>“You are the change-makers,” Gilbert told American readers.
          “The key to the change when it comes to the occupation of
          Palestine lies in the United States.” “Solidarity, not pity,”
          he said, is the solution.</p>
        <p><em><strong>Ben Norton</strong> is an artist and activist.
            His website can be found at <a
              href="http://www.bennorton.com/"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.bennorton.com']);">http://bennorton.com/</a>.</em></p>
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