Mads Gilbert – Olive Branch Press – 2015
The author, a medical doctor from Norway, has volunteered at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the last 3 major Israeli military offensives. His pen is his sword and his camera is his Kalashnikov, as he told The Guardian in the summer of 2015 when his latest book was released.
When the next war starts, Dr. Gilbert won’t be returning to Gaza. Not because he doesn’t feel passionate about the people and the place, but because Israel has banned him from Gaza for life. Regardless, the IDF’s well-funded military is no match for Gilbert’s pen and camera.
The book cover makes one hope that the child is merely sleeping peacefully, but we know that Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 inflicted more than 2,200 Palestinian fatalities, including 551 children. This child is most likely one of the victims.
I bought my copy in a Jerusalem bookstore as I was waiting for permission from Israel to travel to Gaza across the Erez checkpoint in February 2016. I read the book in the beautiful Ecce Homo Pilgrim Center in the Old City. The experience of reading this particular book in this location was surreal.
In July 2014, I couldn’t take my eyes off the television, sitting for hours at a time watching as the mainstream media covered Israel’s assault on Gaza, always from Israel’s perspective. Americans learned about the ‘terror tunnels’ and the ‘terrorist assaults on Israel from land, air and sea‘ and the fear that Israelis experienced with warnings of a rocket approaching, but we never saw the human tragedies unfolding in Gaza, or the disproportionate firepower used by Israel, or the ‘conflict’ placed in terms of Israel’s occupation and 10-year siege.
Mads Gilbert practices ‘solidarity medicine‘ — working alongside his Palestinian colleagues not because the nurses and doctors in Gaza can’t handle the medical work but because they tell him his presence reminds them they are not alone, they haven’t been forgotten.
In Night in Gaza, the reader sees the other side of this ‘conflict’ that the mainstream media couldn’t (and probably didn’t want to) bring to us. Dr. Gilbert’s eyewitness accounts from inside the emergency room, and in the overflowing hospital corridors, and other locations throughout the Gaza Strip should provoke outrage and action among people of conscience.
I’m ordering copies for my two U.S. Senators and my U.S. Representative. They need to see the consequences of our government’s unwavering support for Israel’s penchant for blood and guts. The photos and commentary, along with the facts and figures the author culled from official sources, are an unadulterated indictment of the failure of our government’s foreign policy in the Middle East.