British-Palestinian doctor Ghassan Abu-Sittah refused entry into France

AFP , Ahram Online , Saturday 4 May 2024

British-Palestinian doctor and Glasgow university rector Ghassan Abu-Sittah said Saturday he was denied access to France where he was to report on the medical situation in Gaza.

Ghassan Abu Sitta
British-Palestinian plastic surgeon specialising in conflict injuries Ghassan Abu Sitta speaks to the press during a demonstration in support to Palestinian people at University College London (UCL) main entrance, on May 3, 2024, in London. AFP

 

Abu-Sittah said on X, formerly Twitter, that he had been invited to give an account to French senators of his experience as a doctor in Gaza since the Israeli war on Gaza began, but had been blocked at Paris's Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport.

He had already been stopped from entering Germany last month where he had hoped to attend a "Palestinian Congress" along with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was also denied access.

"I am at Charles De Gaulle airport. They are preventing me from entering France," Abu-Sittah said on X. "I am supposed to speak at the French Senate today. They say the Germans put a 1-year ban on my entry to Europe.".

 

 

A French police source confirmed to AFP that France could not allow the doctor entry because it was bound by a German-issued ban on his entry into the visa-free Schengen zone of which both countries are members.

Last month, Abu-Sittah reported that he had been banned from Germany "for April", as German authorities continue to freedom of expression for pro-Palestinian speakers.

In another X post on Saturday, Abu Sitta said that "the French authorities are denying me access to an earlier flight and insisting on sending me on the last flight back" to London, calling the measure "an act of utter vindictiveness".

 

 

He said "fortress Europe" was "silencing the witnesses to the genocide while Israel kills them in prison".

 

 

The event which Abu-Sittah had been scheduled to attend was organised by Senator Raymonde Poncet Monge, a Green party member.

The president of the Greens' Senate group, Guillaume Gontard, called the decision to block Abu-Sittah "scandalous", and said he was negotiating with the interior and foreign ministries to reverse the move. He added however that the doctor would "probably" be sent back to Britain.

Abu-Sittah spent 43 days in Gaza, notably at the territory's largest hospital Al-Shifa, which is now "completely non-functional."

Israeli forces pulled out of the hospital complex in early April, killing hundreds of displaced and wounded civilians and transforming the hospital into a mass grave by the end of their two-week siege.

The World Health Organization said in April that the hospital had been reduced to ashes by Israel's siege leaving only “an empty shell with human graves.” 

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