A British-Palestinian surgeon used as a pundit by the BBC, Sky and CNN wept as he eulogised a founder of a terrorist group that later participated in the October 7 attacks, saying even after his death “the Israelis will still be afraid”, the JC can reveal.
While working in Gaza following the October 7 attack, Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah – who has been named by the BBC as a “key” source of the death count in the Strip – gave interviews to media outlets across the world in which he accused the IDF of using white phosphorus and targeting hospitals, claims Israel strongly denies.
On his return to London earlier this month, the plastic surgeon delivered a press conference on the conflict broadcast by Sky News and provided testimony to Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit.
Three years earlier, however, the doctor spoke at a ceremony in Beirut commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Maher Al-Yamani, who co-founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
As he wept amongst a crowd of mourners, Abu-Sittah hailed the late terror group founder for his success at striking fear into the hearts of Israelis.
“This is the most ferocious campaign in the West Bank,” he said.
“The West Bank has never witnessed such a campaign even in the 1985 campaign and they are subjected to the worst forms of torture systematic for all our comrades. And this campaign and this atrocity, it makes us our confidence increase.
“The school of Maher [Al-Yamami] and before him was Abu Maher and al-Hakim and Wadih. Despite all this, despite the absence, he still scares the enemy.”
George Habash, or Al-Hakim, as he was known, was also a founder of the PFLP.
Abu-Sittah continued: “All of Maher's efforts, since the day he opened his eyes to this world and he became a young man, didn't go to waste, because the Israeli intelligence is still looking.
"They are looking for anyone who belongs to this school to which Maher dedicated his life and built and transformed it from an organisation to a party and from a party to a school [of thought and ideology] and from a school to a culture.
“And this is our only comfort: that even when Maher leaves the Israelis will still be afraid of Maher.”
Maher Al-Yamami joined the PFLP on its creation in 1967 and worked in its "special operations unit" alongside then-leader Wadie Haddad, according to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidaity Network.
He helped plan the 1968 hijacking of an El Al plane and was sentenced to 31 years in prison before he was released in a prisoner exchange deal following another hijack, they claim.
According to the PFLP's website, the ceremony attended by Abu-Sittah began with a "massive martch" from the Khashoggi Mosque towards Shatila Roundabout, where the graves of many Hezbollah members are located.
The procession was led by Al-Yamami's family, the deputy secretary-general of the PFLP, Abu Ahmed Fouad, and PFLP official Marwan Abdel-Al, they claim.
Fouad fought with the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, and participated in the Black September insurgency against the Jordanian government, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations.
On October 7, Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades participated in Hamas’s brutal attack that saw the slaughter of 1,200 Israelis and the torture, kidnap and rape of others.
On the day of the attack, the militant group issued a statement that declared: “this is the day when the nature of the struggle and the dignity of the Arab nation are reclaimed.”
They added: “The Popular Front urges our heroic people across Palestine to actively participate in the Al-Aqsa Flood battle.
“Everyone from their respective positions and with the tools they possess, should attack the enemy’s army and its settlers, cut off its supply routes, sabotage its vital facilities, and pursue the terrified Zionist invaders in the face of resistance strikes, striking at them on every inch of Palestinian soil.”
The day after the attack, Abu-Sittah shared a post on X/Twitter that read: “We know Israel is going to kill us anyways (sic). We are starving, we are being displaced, we are being besieged, we are being disposed, we are being displaced.
“We know all of this, Israel is going to kill us anyways (sic). Israel wants us kneeling… So why not fight back and die in dignity?”
Abu-Sittah previously liked a photo on X by an account titled Solieman Abu Sittah that featured a picture of a gun, the Palestinian flag, and the PFLP logo.
Another post from the same user, also liked by Abu-Sittah, showed a woman wearing a Hamas-style headband and holding a gun while looking at a corpse.
Abu-Sittah’s lawyers told the JC that Al-Yamami was one of their client’s patients and they later became personal friends when the surgeon lived in Beirut between 2011 and 2019.
They said their client had been asked to speak at Al-Yamani’s memorial by his widow and his distress reflected his personal friendship with him.
They added that Abu-Sittah is not a member of the PFLP, does not support Palestinian terrorist organisations or the Hamas attack, and condemns “that atrocity and all atrocities against civilians.”