Erik Torgeir Fosse (born 2 December 1950)[1] is a Norwegian surgeon, lieutenant colonel, political activist, solidarity worker and musician. As professor of medicine he has headed the Intervention Centre at the National Hospital since 1995.[1] He has been involved in international medical solidarity work since 1979 and co-founded the Norwegian Aid Committee NORWAC in 1983, of which he remains a leader. He is noted for his humanitarian work for NORWAC in the Gaza Strip with Mads Gilbert during the Gaza War.[2]

Erik Fosse

Education and early lifeEdit

Erik Fosse started his medical studies in Madrid, but the university was closed after a student uprising in 1972, so he completed his degree at the University of Oslo, which included a 7-month placement in the northern fishing village of Gryllefjord.[1][3] He got his M.D. (Ph.D.) degree in 1987 for a study on immunological abnormalities connected to trauma.[4] His conscription in 1978 provided his first contact with Lebanon and the Middle East.[1]

Medical careerEdit

Fosse is a specialist of general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery. He has worked at the cardiothoracic departments of Ullevål University Hospital and the National Hospital.[5] Since 1995, he has been the head of the intervention centre at the National Hospital, a research and development center for new technology in medical treatment.[4] He was appointed Professor of Medicine (professor II, a part-time position) at the University of Oslo in 1999.

He represented Norway in the Human Factors and Medicine panel of the Research and Technology Organization in NATO for fifteen years, chairing it from 2011 to 2013.[6][7]

Since 1995 Fosse has headed the Intervention Center at Rikshospitalet, a research and testing department for new medical technology in medical treatment, noted for its ground-breaking interdisciplinary approach.[1]

International humanitarian workEdit

Fosse worked as a surgeon for the Palestine Committee of Norway in Lebanon for the first time in 1979. After the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon he co-founded the Norwegian Aid Committee, NORWAC, in 1983.[4][8] He has also worked for the Norwegian UNIFIL forces in Lebanon and obtained the rank of lieutenant-colonel.[9]

He worked as a surgeon in Iran in 1985 and in Afghanistan for three months in 1986 during the Soviet occupation.[3][4] In 1999, he worked in the Balkans where NORWAC set up a field hospital in Krumë, serving Albanian soldiers and civilians.[10] The hospital was protected by the Kosovo Liberation Army which had their headquarter in Krumë.[10]

During the 2008–2009 Gaza War, Fosse and Mads Gilbert worked at the Al-Shifa Hospital hospital from January, and were in the initial week the only western observers of the Israeli attack who reported to the international media.[2] In 2010 they published a book together on their experiences, Eyes in Gaza.

"From our arrival in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on the afternoon of Dec 31, 2008, until this morning, we have witnessed the most horrific war injuries in men, women, and children of all ages in numbers almost too large to comprehend. The wounded, dying, and dead have streamed into the overcrowded hospital in endless convoys of ambulances and private cars, and wrapped in blankets in the caring arms of others."[11]

Political opinionsEdit

Fosse says his interest for the Palestinian cause started when he was a student in Madrid and met many fellow Arab students.[4]

In Norway he became an active member of the Maoist Workers' Communist Party as well as in the Palestine Committee of Norway. In 1985, Fosse and Trond Linstad was invited by the Islamic government in Iran to visit the country. After they returned to Norway, Fosse and Linstad eagerly defended the Iranian Revolution as a progressive force against imperialism and Zionism. Their positions led to heated debate in the communist paper Klassekampen.[12]

Fosse stated in relation to aid work in Kosovo that he thinks it is often unrealistic and wrong for aid organizations to be impartial, and that aid workers to get things done may need to take side and co-operate with political representatives of that side.[10]

Fosse has also been involved in the debate over the hospital structure in Norway, and has advocated more centralization which he thinks high-tech and advanced medicine requires.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Erik Fosse lives at Røa with his partner Nina Husom, and has two grown-up children.[1][3] He plays in the band Sagene Ring and has released two albums. He is also a painter.[4]

Recognition and awardsEdit

For their reportage from Gaza, Fosse and Gilbert were given the Fritt Ord Honorary Award in 2009.[14] In the same year, they received the Snill Gutt (Good Boy) Award. In 2010, Fosse and Gilbert received Vesleblakkenprisen for altruistic work from Rendalen municipality.

In 2013, Fosse was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of St. Olav for his contributions in medicine and civic engagement.[15][16]


  • (with Hans Husum & Swee Chai Ang) War Surgery: Field Manual (1995), Third World Network/Zed Books, ISBN 9781856493901
  • Inside Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, The Lancet, 17 January 2009
  • (with Mads Gilbert) Eyes in Gaza (2010), Quartet Books Ltd, ISBN 9780704371910
  • Med livet i hendene ("With life in your hands") (2013), Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, ISBN 9788205406964
  • "The intervention center - a common toolbox" in Natvig, JB; Børdahl, PE; Larsen, Ø.; Swärd, ET (ed.): De tre Riker Rikshospitalet 1826-2001 (ISBN 8205301034) Gyldendal academic (2001), pp. 290-298


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Erik Fosse: Parallelle liv". Apollon. Archived from the original on 25 July 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b Gwladys Fouché (16 January 2009). "This is what hell must look like". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Anne Hafstad (17 January 2009): Grenseløs lege (in Norwegian) Aftenposten, retrieved 12 June 2013
  4. ^ a b c d e f Axel M.K. Hærland (26 May 2010): Action Man (in Norwegian), retrieved 12 June 2013
  5. ^ Synnøve Gjerstad (11/12 January 2009): Fosse svarer på kritikken (in Norwegian) TV2, retrieved 22 June 2013
  6. ^ Birger Baug (27 May 2013): Krig kan også redde liv, retrieved 12 June 2013
  7. ^ Hedda Holth (14 June 2013): Krig er ingen morsom opplevelse (in Norwegian) Oslo Universitetssykehus, retrieved 22 June 2013
  8. ^ Kristian Ervik (6 January 2009): De norske stemmene fra Gaza TV2, retrieved 7 July 2013
  9. ^ "Profil: Erik Fosse (58)". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 6 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Marit Schulstok (Uniforum, nb.10, 1999): Med skalpell i krigssonen (in Norwegian) Uniforum, retrieved 13 June 2013
  11. ^ Inside Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, The Lancet, 17 January 2009.
  12. ^ Medaljens bakside (in Norwegian) Morgenbladet, retrieved 13 June 2013
  13. ^ Pål Hellesnes (6 January 2011): Splitter «Gaza-legene» (in Norwegian) Klassekampen, retrieved 22 June 2013
  14. ^ Erik Fosse og Mads Gilbert får Fritt Ords Honnør (in Norwegian) Fritt Ord, retrieved 12 June 2013
  15. ^ Commander of The Royal Norwegian St.Olav's Order The Intervention Center, Oslo University Hospital, retrieved 22 June 2013
  16. ^ "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". The Royal Household of Norway. Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.

External linksEdit