Norwegian doctor banned from Israel, not Gaza, Foreign Ministry says

The Foreign Ministry has denied that Israel banned a Norwegian doctor from entering the Gaza Strip, but confirmed that he has indeed been banned from entering Israel.

A life ban was reportedly imposed on doctor and activist Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza, but according to spokesman Paul Hirschson, he was banned only from Israel, for security reasons.

"He has been banned from entering Israel," AFP cited Hirschson as saying. He also added that, despite previous reports, the ban imposed on the doctor was not necessarily permanent.mads

However, with Egypt's closure of the Rafah Crossing, entry to the Gaza Strip is currently only possible via Israel.

Gilbert, a leading Norwegian physician known for being a harsh critic of Israel, worked as a doctor at Shifa Medical Center during the recent war between Israel and militants in the Strip. He also worked there during the previous round of Israel-Gaza fighting, in 2008-2009.

According to last week's report on the ban, Gilbert was stopped by Israel officials last month en route to the Gaza Strip, where he was planning to return to the hospital. The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv reportedly took up the incident with the Israeli government, who stated that the physician has been banned from Gaza for security reasons.

Hirschson reiterated this, according to AFP. "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."

Original story Nov. 17, 2014 |  http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.626926

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