Gaza doc named Norway's person of year

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Mads Gilbert pictured in November. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
16:37 CET+01:00
A outspoken Norwegian doctor whose efforts to treat Palestinians wounded in the Gaza conflict garnered worldwide attention has been named person of the year by the country’s largest tabloid, Verdens Gang (VG).

Mads Gilbert, 67,whose day job is head physician and anaesthesiologist as the University Hospital of North Norway, spent more than fifty days treating many of the 11,000 injured in this summer’s conflict.

Gilbert was vocal in his criticism of Israel during the war, describing the country’s actions as “state terrorism at the highest levels.” Israel later banned the doctor from Gaza. The ban was officially for security reasons, but Gilbert himself claimed the ban was due to his comments about the war. Israel denied reports that the ban was for life.

He gave graphic accounts to international media of the situation in Gaza’s hospitals, describing how civilians were “maimed and torne apart”. In an open letter to the Lancet medical journal, he and a number of other doctors said they were “appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists.”

Gilbert’s is a controversial figure in Norway, where he is considered to be on the far-left fringe of politics. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 he said he supported terror attacks against the US, saying western foreign policy justified them.

The award was the result of a vote among VG’s readers.

Explaining the award, VG’s editor Torry Pedersen described Gilbert as a “self-sacrificing, engaged Norwegian doctor who again and again has risked his life, has stood in the middle of a bloodbath in Gaza, and who has just one goal: to save the lives of as many children as he can.”

Accepting the prize, Gilbert said he interpreted the award as support, “not primarily for me, but for the long-suffering Palestinian people. I think that people are longing for plain speaking, to know what’s really happening in Gaza. I’m trying to fill that role as best I can.”

Who is doctor Mads Gilbert?

  • Born in Oslo, 1947.
  • Head physician specializing in anesthesiology at University Hospital of North Norway.
  • Over 30 years working in international conflict areas, especially Gaza.
  • Awards include Fritt Ords Honorary Prize (2009).
  • Appointed Commander to the Order of St Olaf (2013).
  • Received PhD at University of Iowa.

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