British Palestinian surgeon due to speak on Gaza denied entry into France on German request

PARIS — A well-known British Palestinian surgeon who volunteered in Gaza hospitals said he was denied entry to France on Saturday to speak at a French Senate meeting about the Israel-Hamas war.

Dr. Ghassan 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.

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, 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 said he was stopped at passport control, held for several hours and then told he had to return to the U.K. 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.

France has seen tensions related to the Mideast conflict almost daily since the deadly Oct. 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.