Israeli authorities now say they haven’t barred Dr Mads Gilbert from Gaza but from Israel itself. The Norwegian physician has treated injured Palestinians in Gaza for years, but was recently turned away at a border entry point into Gaza, allegedly for “security reasons.”
Gilbert and Norway’s foreign ministry immediately protested and Gilbert vowed to return to Gaza, where he spent several weeks again last summer treating victims of Israeli bombing. He had traveled back at the request of the Norwegian government as part of its aid to Gaza, when he suddenly was denied entry into the Palestinian territory.
The Israeli authorities now have told news bureau AFP that Gilbert is denied entry into Israel, not specifically the Gaza Strip. The effect is the same, however, since Gaza can only be entered from Israeli territory and Egypt, but the Egyptian entry point is closed. Israel’s controversial blockade of Gaza aims to control all movements in and out of the area.
“They’re having some problems clarifying whether I am banned from Gaza or Israel,” Gilbert told AFP.
Norwegian authorities, meanwhile, have demanded an explanation from Israel and asked Israeli authorities to reverse the restrictions imposed on Gilbert. Norway’s Labour Party wants the Norwegian government to call Israel’s ambassador to Norway in on the carpet, to further express the country’s objections to the Israeli ban.
“The Israeli authorities are changing their story all the time,” Gilbert said. “I think they’re under pressure because of the reaction from the Norwegian government and the international protests against a doctor being denied entry into Gaza.”
Many Palestinians continue to need medical treatment, and Gilbert is convinced that he was barred from entering Gaza because he’s been so critical of the Israeli bombardment and willingly shares his impressions of the situation inside Gaza with the media. Gilbert has claimed the Israelis are trying to muzzle him, and Norway’s Labour Party believes the same.