An undercover Israeli force seized a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip in 2007 on suspicion of indirect involvement in the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit. But a gag order on the arrest of Mahawash al-Qadi was lifted only Tuesday.
Immediately after al-Qadi was nabbed on September 7, 2007, Hamas moved Shalit to a different location. It also launched a massive effort to find the collaborators who it believed had helped Israel catch al-Qadi. Some of these alleged collaborators apparently fled Gaza.
Al-Qadi was released in October as part of the prisoner swap that freed Shalit.
Israel initially indicted al-Qadi on charges of abetting Shalit's kidnapping. But following a plea bargain, the state amended the indictment to say that al-Qadi was not directly involved in the abduction and did not know where Shalit was being held. The new indictment, to which al-Qadi pleaded guilty, said merely that in September 2005, Hamas' military wing ordered him to locate and purchase a plot of land suitable for digging a tunnel under the border into Israel. It was via this tunnel that Shalit's kidnappers entered Israel.
In April 2011, Haaretz asked the Be'er Sheva District Court, which convicted al-Qadi, to let it report on the case. The state agreed to allow publication of the amended indictment and the verdict, but Haaretz wanted to publish the whole story.
Yesterday, the court was supposed to hold another hearing on Haaretz's request, but the state announced that it was lifting the gag order.
Though al-Qadi's arrest was barred from publication in Israel, it was widely reported in the Palestinian press.
According to accounts in the Arab press, he was nabbed by at least six undercover Israeli soldiers wearing the uniforms of Hamas' special police force as he was driving home to Rafah with his wife and children from a nearby plot of land that they farm.
An old man with a cane and a vegetable basket slipped and fell near his car, so he braked and got out to help. At that point, the six armed "policemen" surrounded him, beat him and stunned him with a taser.
The soldiers then forced his family out of the car, put him in it and drove to a destroyed airport near Rafah, whence he was transferred to a military vehicle and taken to an interrogation cell in an unknown location. There, Shin Bet security service agents spent two weeks trying - unsuccessfully - to discover where Shalit was being kept.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now