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Mon May 30 18:29:18 SAST 2016

Gaza engineer indicted over Hamas rockets

Sapa-AFP | 04 April, 2011 19:070 Comments
Palestinian militants of the radical Islamic Hamas group prepare a homemade rocket . File Picture.

A Gazan engineer who was snatched from Ukraine was charged in court on Monday, with Israel saying he was a Hamas member and a key cog in the Islamist group’s rocket programme.

According to an official summary of the indictment which was filed by prosecutors at Beersheva District Court, Dirar Abu Sisi was charged with belonging to a militant group and with hundreds of counts of attempted murder and making rockets.

“Abu Sisi is accused of nine charges regarding activity in a terrorist organisation, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arms production offences,” it said.

The document said that he helped develop locally made rockets used by Gaza militants, and was responsible for “increasing their range and ability to pierce steel so as to penetrate IDF armoured vehicles and thus harm soldiers.” It also said that Abu Sisi ran the Hamas military academy set up after Operation Cast Lead, the massive 22-day Israeli assault on Gaza which began at the end of December 2009 in a bid to stamp out rocket fire from the enclave.

His Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, told journalists that her client had confessed to “certain things” that she could not elaborate about because of court-imposed restrictions.

She said his confessions were made “under very heavy duress which I would characterise as torture.” Hamas on Monday again denied Abu Sisi had any connection to the organisation and said Israel was the one committing the crime.

“We emphasize that Abu Sisi has no relationship with Hamas, all the charges against him are false,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.

“Kidnapping Abu Sisi in collusion with the Ukrainian authorities is a serious crime, the occupation then torturing him and charging him is a further crime and state terrorism,” Barhum said.

Abu Sisi disappeared last month while travelling on a train in Ukraine and Israel later announced that it was holding the 42-year-old engineer, technical director at Gaza’s sole electricity plant, at Shikma prison in the southern port city of Ashkelon.

A gag order prohibits publishing further details of his case in Israel.

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine has suggested that Israel snatched him because it believed he had valuable information about the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized by Gaza militants in 2006 and still missing.

Ben-Natan and Abu Sisi’s Ukrainian-born wife Victoria both deny that he knows anything about Shalit.

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