Eyes on Gaza

Dr. Mads Gilbert speaks at Concordia

Photo Amanda Laprade

The people of Gaza need help from the international community, rather than pity, said Dr. Mads Gilbert at Concordia on Feb. 1.

Gilbert is an internationally-acclaimed doctor from University Hospital of North Norway who volunteered for 10 days during the 2008-2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Since no media outlets were allowed into Gaza, Gilbert was one of the few people able to report on the situation. Four years later, he continues to share his testimony.

“For me,” he said, “medicine and politics are twins. As a doctor I witnessed, in Gaza, intense suffering and poverty. All were 100 per cent avoidable. I couldn’t stay silent.”

Children were the topic of many of the stories he shared. He spoke of Jumana Samoni, a nine-month old, who lost three fingers on her left hand, and Salmah Abed Rabu, a four-year old, who was hit by bomb fragments and is now paraplegic.

“It is almost unbearable,” he said of the present situation in Gaza.

“Because of the long lasting siege and humanitarian blockage by Israel, there is no access to safe water nor safe food, and [there is] increasing insecurity. Gazans see no future.”

Gilbert made certain to stress that he did not come to Concordia to spread anti-Zionist propaganda.

“I don’t support Hamas, nor Fatah, but [the Gazans] choose their government,” he said.

When asked about his view of Canadian Foreign policy in the Palestinian territories, he said, “I think the decision of Canada to cut funding on [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency] was merciless. But this is my opinion and I don’t want to interfere”.

In 2010, the Harper government cancelled its annual $10 million contribution to UNRWA, which supports dozens of Palestinian relief organizations, because of accusations that the organization employed members of Hamas—an organization on the government’s terror blacklist.

Gilbert ended the night with a call to action for students.

“How can you help? By sending donations, boycotting Israel and by raising awareness with lectures and campaigns. Just as you did tonight.”