Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Dirar Abu Sisi: Two years in confinement with no trial

By Felix Black - February 05, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Behind Bars]
Tags: [Dirar Abu Sisi] [solitary confinement] [Ukraine] [Gaza] [Mossad]

Dirar Abusisi, after losing one-third of his body weight during two years of Israeli detention (photo credits: Richard Silverstein)

Nearly two years have passed since Dirar Abu Sisi was arrested in Ukraine by the Israeli intelligence forces, the Mossad. He was forcibly detained on a train to Kiev whilst attempting to meet his brother, and subsequently taken through a torturous journey until he arrived at Ashkelon prison in Israel.

Ever since then, he has remained in solitary confinement without trial.

The Mossad forces claimed Dirar was involved with the political party Hamas, using his knowledge as a PhD qualified electrical engineer to build rockets to be fired into Israel. They later accused him of withholding information regarding Ghalid Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped in Gaza in 2006.

To date there has been zero evidence that Abu Sisi was ever implicitly linked to building rockets for Hamas. Even with the release of Ghalid Shalit in a prisoner swap in October 2011, Abu Sisi is still locked up in an Israeli prison under solitary confinement.

A security 'gag order’ was imposed on his court case immediately after his capture on February 18th 2011, meaning that all information regarding his arrest and detainment could be withheld. Three weeks later it was partially lifted with Israel coming forward stating that they had imprisoned him in an Israeli jail. Since then, no official information has been released regarding his imprisonment.

Abu Sisi’s arrest and detainment

In December 2012, Mohammad Al-Abid, a lawyer from Addameer Association for Human Rights and Prisoner Support gained access to Dirar in Ashkelon prison. In the proceeding interview, Dirar explained his ordeal.

“I travelled [in February 2011] from Egypt to Jordan where I was received by Jordanian intelligence who investigated my identity and jailed me directly. They blindfolded and led me to a detention centre where they interrogated me constantly for 14 hours.”

After reaching Ukraine, he was arrested on a train from Kharkov to Kiev, in addition to being physically abused by both Ukrainian police forces and Israeli Mossad agents.

“They blindfolded my eyes,” Abu Sissi continued, “and tied my feet and hands before they violently throw me in a car accompanied by two policemen.”

“Then, I was put in a very small place in an airplane. I was not able to sit, stand or move but remained in squat position for 5 hours with my hands and legs cuffed. Afterward I felt suffocated then fainted.”

According to Abu Sissi’s wife Veronika, who is half-Palestinian, half-Ukrainian, they left Gaza in order to “take necessary documents to Ukraine to live permanently with his family. We wanted to live in peace in the country. [Operation] Cast Lead was the last drop in our patience.”

In Veronika’s opinion, Israel arrested him because of “his brain”. He was Plant Manager at Gaza Power Generating Company PLC. Almost singlehandedly he re-configured the plant to run on regular diesel fuel from Egypt instead of high-grade diesel bought from Israel.

 “He was a power plant manager by age 34,” Veronkia said. “Not everyone with trust in God and talent can be a power plant manager by only 34”. He solved the power plants continuous economic and service problems and from his appointment as manager in 2003 until his arrest, the power plant did not fail once, as it was prone to do done many times before.

According to the Israeli prosecutors however, they claim that Abu Sisi learned rocket building in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 1995. The name of the institution he studied at was the 'Military Engineering Academy’. No such place exists.

 At the Kharkiv Municipal Academy, where Abu Sisi actually studied, a professor named Philip Govorov remembers Abu Sisi. He states that Abu Sisi’s specialisation was in “Power Stations, Networks and Systems”— hardly anything related to military science, let alone building rockets.

He has denied any involvement with Hamas, concentrating fully on energy supply in Gaza. His wife stated that “not, at any time, was he political.”

 In another investigation, this time by the British Broadcasting Corporation, it was stated that Abu Sisi had initially been detained by Hamas in an attempt to force him to work for them, just before he left Gaza for Ukraine. With some twisted irony, it may seem as if Israel was therefore duped into believing he was a high-priority target that needed detaining.

He has denied any involvement with Hamas, concentrating fully on energy supply in Gaza. His wife stated that “not, at any time, was he political.”

This could just be another case where Mossad withholds information, and Dirar is actually implicated in 'aiding and abetting’ so-called terrorism. But the evidence against Israel’s seemingly random accusations adds to the contradictory statements that attempt to legitimate his arrest. Essentially, this is the life of a man who worked to secure Gaza a prosperous and peaceful future, with a talent that Israel did not want working against their occupation.   

Fighting for justice: National and international campaigns for his release

In August 2012, Veronika and the UFree Network for Palestinian prisoners have been active in re-kindling support and solidarity for Dirar.

In an interview with UFree Network spokesperson Khaled Waleed, he explained how his organisation was “in solidarity with Dirar, whilst also contacting and lobbying certain governments over their involvement with the imprisonment.”

UFree Network also claims to possess top secret information that proves the involvement of some security services of a number of countries in the kidnapping of Abu Sisi.

When Abu Sisi left Gaza to travel to Ukraine through Egypt and Jordan, he was followed by various personnel.

Mr. Waleed is adamant that the governments of Jordan and Ukraine were complicit in the imprisonment of Dirar Abu Sisi. He stated that “they were co-ordinating it ever since he left Gaza, where he was, what he was doing; they made it easy for the Israeli forces.”

In the past, Veronika has filed lawsuits against the Ukrainian authorities and campaigned to various United Nations and European Union bodies, but to no avail.

Abu Sisi himself has also been active in resisting his imprisonment. Using what little freedom and agency he has left, he has been on various hunger strikes, most recently in September 2012, despite the Israeli guards’ fierce retaliatory punishment against him.

The various international petitions, media reports, solidarity activist hunger strikes and online advocacy campaigns have applied certain pressures on European governments, Jordan, and Israel, pushing for the release of Abu Sisi. His story, along with thousands of other prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, is certainly not over.

Israel’s repeated abuse of internationally recognised standards of prisoner arrest and detainment is typified in Abu Sisi’s example. It defies pretty much every law ever made by the international community to protect human and prisoner rights.

He has denied any involvement with Hamas, concentrating fully on energy supply in Gaza. His wife stated that “not, at any time, was he political.”

UFree network are running an online international petition to stop the illegal detention of Dirar Abu Sisi.




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