A British Palestinian doctor denied entry to France for a Senate meeting about war on Gaza

AP , Ahram Online , Sunday 5 May 2024

A well-known British Palestinian surgeon, Ghassan Abu Sitta who volunteered in Gaza hospitals said he was denied entry to France on Saturday to speak at a French Senate meeting about the Israeli war on Gaza.

FILE - Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a Palestinian-British surgeon specializing in conflict medicine, speaks during an interview at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. AP


Dr. Abu Sitta was placed in a holding zone in the Charles de Gaulle airport and will be expelled, according to French Sen. Raymonde Poncet-Monge, who had invited him to speak at the Senate.

‘’It’s a disgrace,’’ Poncet-Monge posted on X.

"Fortress Europe silencing the witnesses to the genocide while Israel kills them in prison," he said.

"Colonial genocide is a formative component of European identity. Hence their eagerness to become complicit in silencing the witnesses and arming the war criminals."


A French official said that Abu Sitta was turned away because he is barred from entry to all Schengen zone countries based on a German request.

The official, who was not authorized to be publicly named according to government policy, wouldn’t provide details or further information.

Abu Sitta posted on social networks that he was denied entry in France because of a one-year ban by Germany on his entry to Europe. Germany denied him entry last month, as he was invited to speak about the Israeli war on Gaza, and France and Germany are part of Europe’s border-free Schengen zone. Abu Sitta posted Saturday that he was being sent back to London.

The French Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry, local police and the Paris airport authority would not comment on what happened or give an explanation.

Abu Sitta had been invited by France’s left-wing Ecologists group in the Senate to speak at a colloquium Saturday about the situation in Gaza, according to the Senate press service.

The gathering included testimony from medics, journalists and international legal experts with Gaza-related experience.

Last month Abu Sitta was denied entry to Germany to take part in a pro-Palestinian conference. He was stopped at passport control, held for several hours and then told he had to return to the UK He said airport police told him he was refused entry due to “the safety of the people at the conference and public order.”

Abu Sitta, who recently volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, has worked during multiple conflicts in the Palestinian territories, beginning in the late 1980s during the first Palestinian uprising. He has also worked in other conflict zones, including in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

He Sitta spent seven weeks in October and November 2023 operating from Gaza’s Al-Shifa and Al-Ahli Baptist Hospitals, "his testimony forming a valuable basis for understanding the fraught conditions under which Gaza’s doctors are operating – conditions deliberately created by Israeli military actions," the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians said.


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