Giving insight on the daily scourge of atrocities being experienced by civilians of war-torn Gaza by Israeli air strikes was the topic of discussion by Norwegian surgeon, Dr Mads Gilbert, who spoke at DUT’s Cane Growers Hall, ML Sultan Campus last week.
Dr Gilbert, a specialist in anaesthesiology and the Head of the Emergency Medicine Department at the University of North Norway, has been working in Gaza since 1981. He has just returned from spending several weeks at the Al-Shifa Hospital in the Palestinian Gaza Strip where he has been treating the injured and wounded by the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza.
He was invited to South Africa by Channel Islam International and BDS South Africa (a non-profit organisation which raises awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians) on a speaking tour which ended yesterday (30 August 2014).
The outspoken doctor also expressed his views in an open letter which he sent to US President Barack Obama, challenging him to spend one night in Al Shifa’a Hospital, as he was convinced if he did so, he would not walk away without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
Dr Gilbert said people around the world were under the false impression that there were many medical teams being dispatched to work at hospitals in Gaza, adding that “the truth is that very few foreign doctors were being allowed to help at these hospitals”.
On his experiences in Gaza, Dr Gilbert has been at the forefront of two Israeli military attacks. The first was in 2008 and the second in 2012 where to date, 10 000 people have been injured and as many as 2000 killed, with one-third being children fatalities.
“The ‘ground invasion’ of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads (of people) maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering and dying. 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’a for the last year). They care, triage and try to understand the incomprehensible chaos,” said Dr Gilbert.
Commenting on the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza, Dr Gilbert stressed: “This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. Today, Palestinians are treated as sub-humans who can be bombed, killed and slaughtered. However, solidarity is a powerful weapon, so join the boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israel campaign. Israel is more isolated than ever and they deserve to be.”
He also appealed to South Africans and people around the world to not forget the people of Gaza and help by donating funds as there was a great lack of food, medication, electricity and water. “Please. Do what you can. This cannot continue,” he urged.
Pictured: Dr Mads Gilbert