‘Unforgivable, Unacceptable’ – Netherlands Bans Top Gaza Surgeon Abu Sitta

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta was denied entry by several EU countries. (Photo: video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The surgeon, also rector of the University of Glasgow, witnessed the Israeli massacre in Gaza during the first months of Israel’s war.

The Dutch government did not allow Palestinian-British surgeon Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, who worked in the Gaza Strip during the war, to travel to the Netherlands, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday. 

The Netherlands decided to abide by an earlier decision from Germany, which previously did not grant the surgeon a Schengen visa, the spokesperson said.

‘Silencing a Witness to Genocide’ – Germany Denies Entry to Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta

The surgeon, also rector of the University of Glasgow, witnessed the Israeli massacre in Gaza during the first months of Israel’s war.

Abu-Sitta was scheduled to speak at the University of Amsterdam and, on May 17, at an event organized by The Rights Forum in the Dutch capital.

He was also supposed to have a meeting with Dutch MPs, including Kati Piri (GroenLinks-PvdA) and Ruben Brekelmans (VVD).

Banned in Germany, France

On April 12, upon arrival by plane in Berlin, the Palestinian doctor was denied entry into Germany. 

Abu-Sitta was set to speak there about his experiences in Gaza at the Palestine Congress. The three-day congress was banned by the authorities after the first speaker concluded his remarks. Hundreds of attendees were forcefully removed by the police, and Abu-Sitta was sent home on a plane.

‘This is what accomplices to a crime do,’ he said following the action by the German authorities. ‘They hide the evidence and silence or intimidate the witnesses.’ 

Banned in France – Prominent Palestinian Doctor Denied Entry into Other EU Country

Germany is one of the largest suppliers of weapons to Israel.

Last Saturday, May 4, Abu-Sittah was also denied entry to France. Upon arrival in Paris, where he was scheduled to speak at a symposium in the Senate, he was informed that Germany had imposed a Schengen-wide ‘administrative ban’ on him for one year. 

No reason was given for the ban.

‘Unforgivable and Unacceptable’

The Palestine Chronicle spoke with Gerard Jonkman, Director of the Netherlands-based Right Forum.

Jonkman told The Palestine Chronicle that they decided to invite Dr. Abu Sitta soon after Germany’s decision to ban the surgeon and cancel the event in Berlin where he was supposed to speak. 

“In our opinion it is unacceptable in a democratic Europe that freedom of expression is suppressed in such a brutal way,” Jonkman said.

“For that reason we immediately had the idea to organize an alternative event in The Netherlands,” he added.

According to Jonkman, it was legally possible for The Netherlands to get around Germany’s ban, but Dutch authorities were not willing to do so. 

“It is a shame that the Dutch government does not allow Dr. Abu Sitta to enter the country. First of all because he is a witness of genocide and other war crimes in Gaza. Therefore, he should be able to speak out,” Jonkman said.

Jonkman explained that it was planned for Dr. Abu Sitta to hold a meeting at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about Israel’s use of white phosphorus in its current war on Gaza. 

“He should have the opportunity to inform OPCW about this,” Jonkman said.

Additionally, The Netherlands hosts critical institutions, such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. 

“For this reason, it is unforgivable and unacceptable that Dutch government does not allow witnesses of genocide and other war crimes to enter the country,” Jonkman said.

“It indicates that The Netherlands is not the right host for these institutions. The Hague is the self-proclaimed capital of peace and justice but clearly does not deserve this title anymore.”

According to Jonkman, the “decision also highlights Dutch complicity in suppressing freedom of expression, especially when it comes to solidarity with Palestinian people.”

“We are now studying our political, legal and other options to reverse the decision of the Dutch government,” the director of the Dutch Rights Forum said, adding that “the event will be held anyway.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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1 Comment

  1. The governement is afraid Dutch people might hear what exactly is going on in Gaza. That would not be good, because they are completely in Netanyahu’s pocket, and so are the media.

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