Middle East

'Abducted' Palestinian Dirar Abu Sisi on Hamas charges

Dirar Abu Sisi appearing in an Israeli court 31 march 2011
Image caption Dirar Abu Sisi denies any connection to Hamas

Israel has charged an engineer from Gaza with running a training academy for Hamas militants and developing the Islamist group's rockets.

Dirar Abu Sisi says he was abducted by Israel's secret service in Ukraine while applying for citizenship there.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is "a Hamas man" who has provided "valuable information" to Israel.

Mr Abu Sisi's lawyer says the charges against him are untrue and they will seek to have the case dismissed.

Mr Abu Sisi, the manager at Gaza's main power plant, has accused Israel of kidnapping him "for no reason". He and his family have denied any links with Hamas.

He also denies any knowledge of captive Israeli soldier Sgt Gilad Shalit in the Gaza Strip.

There has been media speculation that his case is connected to that of Sgt Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants in June 2006 during a raid into Israel.

'Forcibly removed'

Mr Abu Sisi, 43, appeared in court in the southern city of Beersheba on Monday to hear some 15 pages of charges against him.

The long list of charges include:

  • That he is commander of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Military Academy, the military academy of the military wing of Hamas
  • That he has close ties to the leadership of the Hamas military wing with Ahmed Jabari and Muhammad Deif
  • That he was central to developing and manufacturing of Hamas's Qassam rockets and anti-tank rockets in the Gaza Strip
  • That he has served Hamas in several capacities, including the development of rockets and anti-tank missiles
  • That he was involved in upgrading the range and capabilities of thousands of rockets launched at Israel in recent years

Other charges include: Membership of a terrorist organisation; providing services to an illegal organisation; conspiracy to commit a crime; attempted murder and weapons manufacturing.

'International crime'

Mr Abu Sisi says he was forcibly removed from a train in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on 19 February and interrogated by agents from the Israeli secret service, Mossad.

He said he was handcuffed, hooded and then held in an apartment before being flown to Israel. He said he went a total of 25 days before seeing a lawyer.

Mr Abu Sisi's wife - who is Ukrainian - says he had travelled to Ukraine to apply for citizenship, in order to move his family there.

Mr Abu Sisi's Israeli lawyer Smadar Ben-Natan, speaking outside court, said the allegations against her client were "all untrue".

"We are going to ask to dismiss this indictment because of the abusive process that has been done to this person," she said.

"The illegality of his detention is grounds to dismiss the whole indictment."

She added: "The court did not allow us to publish the circumstances of his arrest or his interrogation. That is why we are not able to defend him well against those accusations."

Last week, the Palestinian ambassador in Kiev, Mohammed al-Assad, called Israel's arrest "an international crime that must be punished".

The Ukrainian government said it was not involved in the operation and was waiting for an official Israeli explanation.

A partial gag order by an Israeli court had previously prevented the publication of details relating to this case.

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