Europe

UK-Palestinian Surgeon & Rector Who Described Gaza ‘Nightmare’ Blocked From EU Entry

Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta, a Palestinian-British plastic surgeon specializing in conflict medicine, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. Abu Sitta who spent weeks in the Gaza Strip during the current Israel-Hamas war in the enclave as part of a Doctors Without Borders medical team said he has given testimony to a British war crimes investigation unit.

Mary ManleyAccording to French police, German authorities put a visa ban on Abu-Sitta for a year, which has banned his entry to other European countries. Professor Ghassan Abu-Sitta, a London plastic and reconstructive surgeon who spent 43 days in Gaza helping to treat those wounded in Palestine-Israel war, said he has been denied entry to France despite being scheduled to speak to the senate there later on Saturday.Abu-Sitta arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport on Saturday morning after a flight from London, and was informed by French authorities that Germany had placed a Schengen-wide ban on his entry to Europe.

“I am at Charles De Gaulle airport. They are preventing me from entering France. I am supposed to speak at the French Senate today,” Abu-Sitta posted on X on Saturday.

“Fortress Europe silencing the witnesses to the genocide while Israel kills them in prison,” he added. The surgeon had been invited by Green party parliamentarians to take part in a conference during which he would speak to them about Gaza, as well as France and its responsibility regarding the application of international law there. Through the help of lawyers, he was able to obtain a videoconference link and was still able to speak to the senate, said French Senator Raymonde Poncet Monge on X (formerly Twitter).“We are outraged that he cannot be present among us,” said the French senator.The Elysée said it was not aware of Abu-Sitta’s barred entrance, but a spokesperson did say that when “it’s a question of a Schengen refusal, the border police can’t do much about it.”The Schengen area consists of 26 European countries, including 22 European Union states. The term “Schengen” comes from the town in southeastern luxembourg where France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the original Schengen Agreement in 1985.Abu-Sitta was also denied entrance to an event in Berlin in April. He was scheduled to speak at a Palestine Congress event but was barred entry and questioned for hours. The organizer of the Palestine Congress, Nadija Samour, said that there was “pressure from the federal government” to cancel at the time and that Germany was “actively and illicitly” trying to obstruct the event.On Friday, Abu-Sitta told a Qatari news site that in Gaza, he experienced a “nightmare” including a scene in which he saw bodies and “body parts everywhere including a small arm, which clearly belonged to a child” following a missile strike outside of a hospital. He described the October 17th strike as the litmus test for “Israel’s full war on Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure”.“Victims of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, including tens of thousands of children, underwent extremely painful procedures without anesthetic; it felt criminal to perform these procedures,” wrote Abu-Sitta. “It’s indescribably heart-wrenching to hear children scream from pain that you are causing, even when you know you are only trying to save their lives.”Abu-Sitta added that he had completed his medical education at the University of Glasgow, even as it is one of the biggest academic investors in companies that sells arms to Israel, he claimed. He then ran for the position of rector out of respect for his students who “overwhelmingly wanted to end the institution’s complicity in the mass slaughter of Palestinians” and won the election with 80% of the vote.“As a result of my victory, my media appearances, and calls for accountability and justice, I have been the target of several smear campaigns and the subject of several articles that make unfounded claims about me,” wrote Abu-Sitta. “I was even denied entry to Germany, detained for three hours and ultimately deported. I was going there simply to speak at a conference.”In 2023, Germany sent Israel 326.5 million euros ($353.7m) in equipment and weapons in 2023, according to Economy Ministry Data.

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