Germans enact Europe-wide ban for Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, denied entry to France

London 4th May: Renowned Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah has this morning been denied entry into France. After arriving at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, Dr Abu Sittah was informed by French authorities that the Federal Republic of Germany has enforced a Schengen-wide ban on his entry into Europe. This comes on the day that he was due to appear in the French Senate to provide his testimony on Gaza’s healthcare system and Israel’s attacks against it. Dr Abu Sittah remains under French detention, his phone seized.

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah 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.

This unacceptable harassment of a globally respected medical professional, only recently elected Rector of Glasgow University, serves a clear purpose. By design, the Germans are silencing a key witness to Israel’s war crimes. This follows their action taken on the 12th April to bar Dr Abu Sittah’s entry to Berlin to participate in the Palestine Congress – an event which German police later disbanded.

The German government, which increased its arms exports to Israel by 1,000% throughout October and November, has recently been taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by Nicaragua, the latter alleging a failure to prevent genocide by the former. Domestically, the state has faced widespread criticisms over its ‘crackdown’ on free speech by those alleging war crimes and genocide by Israel against the Palestinians.

Tayab Ali, Director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), has stated:

German politicians have repeatedly claimed that Israel’s security is Germany’s “reason of state”. They are behaving as such: to shield Israel from criticism, they are denying the rights to speech and movement of a renowned doctor, who experienced first-hand Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s healthcare system. ICJP are instructing lawyers in France and Germany to see that the German’s authoritarian crackdown on free speech and witness testimony won’t stand.”

Notes to Editor

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
  2. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected]
  3. Associated Press, 12th April 2024, ‘Prominent surgeon says he was denied entry to Germany for a pro-Palestinian conference
  4. Foreign Policy, 8th April 2024, ‘Nicaragua accuses Germany of ‘facilitating’ genocide in Gaza
  5. CNN, 28th January 2024, ‘Crackdown on an already banned Hamas raises free speech fears in Germany