- In practice, the two doctors took on the role of spokesman for Hamas, and met almost no contradictions from the Norwegian press and the public. They may have reported in accordance with their ideological beliefs, but this provided a completely distorted picture of the situation, said Hildegunn Hansen, spokeswoman at the Israeli embassy, one year after the war in Gaza.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre wrote on the washing note for the book: “When the war rages, the civilians become voiceless. Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert were in Gaza as doctors in January 2009. In addition, they conveyed what they saw. It was not their duty, but it was their responsibility. When the military power shuts down all the votes, the few who need to get through become extra strong – and important. ”The Foreign Minister's contribution rebels Hildegunn Hansen.
- The book is in practice an anti-Israeli pamphlet, where the purpose is to demonize Israel to the readers. The book represents a low point in Scandinavian publications. We see a continued dialogue with Norway as very important, both in the bilateral area and around the peace process, she says to Ny Tid.
- Israeli tradition
- Traditionally, it has been unheard of for diplomats to comment on internal matters, says Iver B. Neumann, head of research at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI).
Neumann, who has published several articles on diplomacy in Norwegian and international journals, believes the embassy's statement creates an interesting issue.
He says that one country in particular has been particularly crass in local debates, namely Israel. According to Neumann, Israel reached an absolute low target in Stockholm in 2004, when Ambassador Zvi Mazel vandalized a work of art at the Historical Museum. Mazel attacked an installation with a picture of a female Palestinian suicide bomber perched on a boat in a pool of red water.
- The statements from Hildegunn Hansen are part of an Israeli tradition that differs from all other diplomatic practices, says Iver Neumann, adding:
– But it is not my job to assess whether such statements are problematic, or how diplomats should relate to statements that criticize the country they represent.
Erik Fosse writes in an e-mail to Ny Tid that neither he, Mads Gilbert nor the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC) support any particular Palestinian party.
– Our purpose with the book is not to demonize Israel. During the war, we tried to speak for our patients. They were Palestinians. We only reported what we experienced at the hospital and what the patients said. Our description of the situation in Gaza has subsequently proved to be moderate, because we did not know about all the abuses, writes Fosse. – Hildegunn Hansen does not point out a single specific error in the book. She criticizes it on a general basis. If the press had criticized us, we would have taken it to heart. The authorities' attack only strengthens the testimony, says Fosse. He is not the least bit surprised by the criticism from the embassy. – It would have been surprising if they did not call the book a low point. Israel murdered a lot of people. Then they naturally characterize the testimony as a low point. The low point stood for Israel itself when they prevented an entire world from reporting from the war, says Fosse.
According to Fosse shows Eyes in Gaza how Israel has stigmatized the people of Gaza as Hamas supporters and terrorists. Therefore, Israeli representatives perceive all evidence of civilian abuse and killing as support for Hamas.
– Figures from the UN show that more than half of those killed and injured were women or children. About a third of the victims were children, says Fosse. He believes that the Arab League's investigative committee, Amnesty International and not least the Goldstone report, give an even stronger picture of abuses and violations of international law, than what he and Gilbert describe in the book. – The reason why our descriptions are strong is that they are eyewitness accounts from the war itself, but the tragic facts are better documented in the other reports, says Fosse.
- Important voices
The press contact for the Foreign Minister, Ragnhild Imerslund, emphasizes that the Foreign Minister has not gone well for the contents of the book. He praises the work the doctors did, says Imerslund, pointing to the inscription on the laundry note. She thinks Hildegunn Hansen's defining characteristics of the book are unproblematic.
– Like everyone else, the Israeli embassy is free to express its opinion on this book. This is how democracy works. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the other hand, has no official view on the content of Eyes in Gaza, says Imerslund.