UK doctor denied entry to France for senate meeting on Gaza

Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta will be expelled, according to a French senator.

Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta is a surgeon specializing in conflict medicine (AP)
Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta is a surgeon specializing in conflict medicine (AP) (Hussein Malla/AP)

A well-known UK-Palestinian surgeon who volunteered in Gaza hospitals said he has been denied entry to France to speak at a senate meeting about the Israel-Hamas war.

French authorities did not give a reason for the decision to bar Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta.

The medic was placed in a holding zone in the Charles de Gaulle airport and will be expelled, according to French senator Raymonde Poncet Monge, who had invited him to speak at the senate.

“It’s a disgrace,” she posted on X.

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

Dr 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, and France and Germany are part of Europe’s border-free Schengen zone. He posted on 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.

Dr Abu Sitta had been invited by France’s left-wing Ecologists group in the senate to speak at a colloquium on 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, Dr Abu Sitta was denied entry to Germany to take part in a pro-Palestinian conference.

He said 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”.

Dr 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.

France has seen tensions related to the Middle East conflict almost daily since the deadly October 7 Hamas incursion into Israel.

In recent days and weeks police have cleared out students at French campuses holding demonstrations and sit-ins similar to those in the United States.