Israel blocks Norwegian doctor, denies life ban

2014-11-17 13:20

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Jerusalem - Israel has blocked Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from entering the country and thereby accessing the Gaza Strip, but denied Monday it had imposed a lifelong ban on the outspoken medic.

"He has been banned from entering Israel," foreign ministry spokesperson Paul Hirschson told AFP, categorically denying reports the doctor had been blocked from entering Gaza.

Access to the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006, is only possible through the Erez crossing from Israel, or the Rafah terminal on the Egyptian border.

But Rafah has been blocked by Cairo since a deadly suicide bombing in the northern Sinai on 24 October, leaving Erez as the only entry point to the Palestinian territory.

News of the ban was first reported last week by the Norwegian press which said Israel had banned Gilbert from Gaza for life.


Gilbert, who has previously worked in Gaza, was one of two dozen European doctors who signed a letter published in leading medical journal The Lancet in July, several weeks into a deadly 50 day confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants in the tiny coastal strip.

The war, which ended on 26 August, claimed the lives of around 2 200 Palestinians and 73 people in Israel.

The letter described Israel's Gaza campaign as a "crime against humanity".

Hirschson denied the ban was a punitive measure, saying it was "exclusively a result of security considerations." He did not explain further.

"The decision is exclusively a result of a security consideration. It is not a punishment, and therefore it has no time frame," he said.

"It is not 'forever' as some have implied, but for as long as the security considerations which have led to it remain the same."

Gilbert, who works at the University Hospital of North Norway's Clinic of Emergency Medicine, also volunteered in Gaza City's Shifa hospital during the 22-day war over New Year 2009 in which more than 1 440 Palestinians were killed.

He co-wrote a book about his experience of saving lives under fire which featured harrowing testimony.

Read more on:    norway  |  israel  |  gaza

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