MOSCOW, November 14 (Sputnik) — Norwegian doctor and activist Mads Gilbert, who has treated Palestinians in the Gaza strip for over 30 years, has been banned for life from entering the Palestinian exclave by Israeli authorities, VG reported Friday.
"Dr. Gilbert's entry to Gaza was denied by the security authorities for security reasons… This has nothing to do with Gilbert's anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic statements," a spokesperson for the Israeli Coordination of Government activities in the territories (COGAT) was cited as saying by the Norwegian newspaper. The spokesperson refrained from elaborating what these security reasons may be.
According to the newspaper, Gilbert was barred from returning to Gaza in October to work at the Shifa hospital, where he was stationed during Israel's military offensive against Gaza in the summer.
In an e-mail obtained by the newspaper, the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv informed that Gilbert has been denied entrance to Gaza by Israeli security authorities "with permanent duration".
In his comments to the newspaper Gilbert slammed the Israeli authorities' decision.
"When a pen, a camera and a stethoscope become a security threat, we are facing a regime that fears only one thing: the truth," Gilbert told VG.
"At first I became really sad. Then the rage grew. It is provocative, unreasonable and totally unacceptable… I have never done anything wrong in Israel. I have never broken any Israeli laws or security regulations," he said.
According to Norwegian State Secretary Bard Glad Pedersen, Norway has contacted Israeli authorities, asking them to revise the ban. "The humanitarian situation in Gaza is still difficult and there is need for health workers, he told VG, adding that "as far as we know, no other health workers have faced similar problems".
Gilbert traveled to Gaza for the first time in 1981 and has regularly visited the region ever since. The 67-year-old anesthesiologist, who heads the emergency medicine department at the University Hospital of North Norway, has become a controversial figure for his pro-Palestinian stance and sharp criticism of Israeli authorities. Gilbert is also a member of the Norwegian socialist Red party.