OSLO (AFP) – Israel’s offensive in Gaza can be compared to the massacre of Palestinian refugees by Israeli-backed Lebanese militiamen in 1982, two medics said Monday as they returned to Norway after working 10 days at a Gaza hospital.
“Gaza in 2009 is becoming a new bloody chapter in Palestinian and Middle Eastern history that is, unfortunately, comparable to Sabra and Shatila,” Mads Gilbert told reporters at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport, referring to a three-day massacre at two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut 27 years ago.
Gilbert, 61, and his colleague Erik Fosse, 58, were sent into Gaza to work at the Shifa Hospital by the pro-Palestinian aid organisation NORWAC on December 31.
They said they had both worked in Lebanon in 1982 when Lebanese Christian militia massacred between 800 and 2,000 Palestinians at the camps as Israeli troops stationed nearby did nothing to stop the bloodshed.
“We hoped we would never see anything like it again,” Gilbert said.
The high number of civilian casualties and the huge amount of suffering in Gaza was, however, similar to what he had seen back then, he said, claiming that as many as 90 percent of the wounded he and his colleagues had treated at the Shifa hospital were civilians.
“Every third person killed and every second person injured is a child under 18 or a woman,” he said.
“Gaza is living an enormous humanitarian crisis… The bombing must stop and the borders (with Israel and Egypt) must be opened so that civilians can receive food, water and be safe,” he said.