Israel under pressure over Ukraine kidnapping

Israel continues to test relations with other countries by kidnapping a Palestinian in Ukraine.

Last year the nation’s intelligence agency Mossad allegedly murdered Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas operative in Dubai. The crime was discovered and solved by Dubai Police which named 28 suspects, almost all having used counterfeit passports from several countries to enter the emirate. The Jewish state denied it had carried out the assassination, however at odds with its denial Israel apologised to the British government over the use of the fake passports.

Dirar Abu Sisi, Deputy Director of the main power plant in Gaza, left for Ukraine in February. Shortly after his departure he went missing. Later that month Israel admitted Abu Sisi was in prison in Israel.

German magazine Der Spiegal on Tuesday of this week said Abu Sisi was captured as it was thought he may have had information about the whereabouts of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

Israel has placed a “gag order” on the case and a court hearing this week was closed to the media. As he entered the courtroom on Thursday Abu Sisi told reporters he had been kidnapped by Mossad agents on a train in Kharkov, in Ukraine. He said he was not a member of Hamas and did not know anything about Gilad Schalit.

Israel was under pressure late in the week to explain the kidnapping. While other nations around the world are being pressured over human rights violations, Israel appears immune in carrying out murders and kidnappings in foreign countries.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who was in Israel recently, said Abu Sisi’s disappearance was under investigation. Asked if Mossad had kidnapped the man in Ukraine, Azarov said, “”I don’t want to imagine that such things are carried out on the soil of a friendly state.”

On Friday Israel was battling to explain its actions, particularly as it would appear Abu Sisi’s claims he had no knowledge of Schalit, and was not associated with Hamas were true.

The Jerusalem Post said it had confirmed with its sources in Gaza that Abu Sisi was not known to be affiliated with the militant organization.

“When someone came along who they thought was senior in Hamas and was located outside the Gaza Strip, they got their hands on him, without this matter being really justified, in retrospect,” Smadar Ben-Natan, Abu Sisi’s lawyer told Israel’s Army Radio.

“Israel is trying to cover up the mistake” she said.

“Instead of confessing and saying, ‘Sorry, turns out what we thought was a mistake, we are sorry, go home, sir,’ they are trying to find what they can blame him with so that it doesn’t become clear this whole matter was one big farce,” she said.

On Thursday Israeli prosecutors asked the court in Petah Tikva to extend Abu Sisi’s detention for five days so charges can be prepared.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday told Israel Radio that Abu Sisi has useful information about Hamas even if it does not concern Gilad Schalit, “therefore the arrest is justified.”

On Wednesday in an interview with You Tube, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Abu Sisi is a Hamas member. He’ being held in Israel. He supplied us with valuable information.”

Abu Sisi is married to a Ukrainian national. The pair have six children. The engineer’s family say he was in Ukraine to apply for citizenship for his family.

The Abu Sisi affair comes as veiled criticism was levelled at the Jewish state in Britain in a joint UK-Israeli conference this week. The talk fest on Wesnesday was held to mark sixty 60 years of British-Israeli diplomatic relations.

“I have no doubt that Israel plays by a different set of rules than the rules that we observe in the UK,” former MI6 director Sir Richard Dearlove told the conference.

“I’m not going to expand on that, but I will just have to leave it to the imagination,” he said.

Current UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking at the conference, commented on Britain’s support for Israel and its right to defend itself, but said that support did not mean, “that we will agree on every expression of that right or on every one of Israel’s actions.”


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