Why is this extremist Gaza doctor still being fêted?

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah is treated as an expert by the media, trusted by Scotland Yard and has been hosted in Parliament. But he has eulogised a terror chief, praised the killer of a rabbi and sat with a Palestinian hijacker


Doctor Ghassan Abu-Sittah speaking at a press conference in London (left) and weeping over the grave of PFLP founder Maher Al-Yamani (Photo: Sky News/PFLP)

He has become known as a hero surgeon who worked in Gaza and has been fêted by the BBC and Sky. He is even a contender to become rector of the University of Glasgow, which he intends to withdraw from the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

But Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, who has been hosted in Parliament by Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs, can be unmasked today as a shameless extremist who has frequently got too close for comfort to terrorists.

Over the years, Dr Abu Sittah has praised a terrorist murderer in a newspaper article, sat beside a notorious terrorist hijacker at a memorial and delivered a tearful eulogy to the founder of a terror group that was later involved in the October 7 atrocities, the JC can reveal today.

Nonetheless, both while working as a surgeon in Gaza and after he returned to Britain, he has been treated as an expert by the world’s biggest media outlets, including BBC, Sky and CNN.

In November, the plastic surgeon delivered a press conference on the Israel-Hamas conflict that was broadcast by Sky News. He also provided testimony to Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit.

In December, Dr Abu Sittah was hosted in Parliament by Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran and Labour MP Imran Hussain before addressing NHS doctors protesting against Israel.

He was named by the BBC as a “key” source of verification for Hamas’s controversial death count in Gaza and has used his extensive media platforms to claim that Israel has used white phosphorous and targeted hospitals. He also alleged that amputations in Gaza were being carried out without anaesthetic and with washing-up liquid to clean wounds.

The JC’s revelations pile pressure on the BBC, Sky News, Glasgow University, the General Medical Council (GMC), the Metropolitan Police and other institutions to cut ties with him. The GMC said it is poised to investigate.

The evidence is compelling. Writing for Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar in 2018, the high-profile doctor, who has 113,000 followers on X/Twitter, lavished praise on terrorist Ahmad Jarrar, who masterminded the murder of father-of-six Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a drive-by shooting near Nablus.

Valourising him as one of Palestine’s “dearest and best sons” and a “hero”, Dr Abu Sittah presented the murderer as the victim of a “satanic alliance” between Israeli and Palestinian security services who shot the killer dead.

The doctor wrote: “The martyrdom of the resistance member Ahmed Nasr Jarrar, the hero of the Nablus operation, at the hands of the Zionist occupation army… like the hundreds of resistance fighters who were martyred at the hands of this satanic alliance, represents a pivotal moment.”

He added: “The Palestinian people stand watching one of their dearest and best sons drenched in their pure blood.”

He then argued that Palestinian officials must be forced to stop working with Israel to foil terror attacks and embrace “revolutionary violence”. Dr Abu Sitta wrote: “If the authority does not voluntarily abandon the continuation of this destructive path… then it must be pushed and forced to abandon it, even by force, and by all available means.”

Chillingly, he concluded: “There is no weapon left in the hands of the people other than revolutionary violence.”

This was hardly an isolated incident. In 2019, he was pictured sitting next to the notorious hijacker Leila Khaled at a memorial for a leader of terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Maher Al-Yemani.

Khaled, 79, became a terror icon in the 1960s after she hijacked a flight to Tel Aviv before being arrested after her failed attempt to seize an El Al plane. Further pictures show Dr Abu Sittah delivering a speech at a lectern covered in a Palestinian flag and a large photograph of the terror leader Al-Yemani.

Moreover, in 2020, a year after Al-Yemani’s death, Dr Abu Sitta delivered an emotional speech at his graveside in Beirut which was captured on camera and exposed by the JC in December.

Clutching his heart and swaying with emotion as tears rolled down his face, the doctor lauded the terrorist chief, hailing his success at striking fear into the hearts of Israelis. “This is the most ferocious campaign in the West Bank,” he said. “This campaign and this atrocity, it makes us our confidence increase… Despite his absence, he still scares the enemy.”

Dr 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”, according to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidaity Network.

He helped plan the hijacking of an El Al plane and was sentenced to 31 years in prison before he was released in a prisoner exchange deal, it said.

According to the PFLP’s website, the ceremony attended by Dr Abu-Sittah began with a “massive march” towards Shatila Roundabout, location of Hezbollah graves.

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 said.

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.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades took part in the October 7 atrocities. It said in a statement: “This is the day when the nature of the struggle and the dignity of the Arab nation are reclaimed.”

Astonishingly, Dr Abu Sittah is in the running to become the rector of the University of Glasgow, elected by students.

In his manifesto, he strongly opposes the university’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, taken as the gold standard by Jewish communities.

“By linking criticism of Israel to antisemitism, this definition threatens academic criticism of Israel and Palestinian solidarity events,” he says.

“Accordingly, as rector, I would call for the replacement of the IHRA definition with the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.”

When approached by the JC, Dr Abu Sittah said: “While I may in the past have used emotive language at the funeral of a friend or following an extra-judicial killing, I vehemently oppose terrorism, and civilian casualties on all sides.

“As a surgeon, my vocation is preserving life and I repeat my calls for a sustainable ceasefire and lasting peace.”

His lawyers claimed that the doctor did not know that Jarrar had been involved in the killing of a rabbi and that he would never condone murder.

Dr Abu Sittah had written the article because the Jarrar was the victim of an extra-judicial Israeli killing and that he should have faced due process instead, they claimed.

His legal team added that Dr Abu Sittah “abhors” anti-Jewish racism and only opposes the IHRA definition because of its “chilling effect on legitimate criticism of Israel’s actions”.

He was similarly not aware that Al-Yamani was accused of involvement in terrorism, they added.

The GMC said: “We can and will investigate serious concerns that suggest patient safety or the public’s confidence in doctors may be at risk and will take action where it is necessary.”

A spokesman for Layla Moran said: “Professor Ghassan has provided his evidence directly to the Scotland Yard war crimes unit. The police have no issue with Professor Ghassan with respect to his credibility or associations. Ghassan Abu Sittah is an eyewitness to what has happened in Gaza, in particular at the hospitals where he operated as a surgeon. His remarks centred on what he directly experienced, which included amputations with no anaesthetic and using washing-up liquid to sanitise wounds.

“It is important that Parliamentarians are able to hear evidence from all sides of the conflict. For example, Layla has met with the families of hostages and received briefings from former IDF commanders. Liberal Democrats continue to put humanity at the heart of their response to this horrific conflict.”

A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The rector is nominated and elected by registered students and represents them at the University Court, the institution’s independent governing body. The University follows full due process and diligence regarding candidates.”

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