Abu Sisi - Daniel Bar-On - March 31, 2011
Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi at the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court, March 31, 2011. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
Text size

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, who has been held in Israeli custody for close to 40 days, said yesterday he had no connection to the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

“I don’t know anything about Gilad Shalit ... I’m an engineer,” Abu Sisi said at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court before a hearing regarding an extension of his remand.

The Shin Bet security service and the State Prosecutor’s Office intend to file an indictment next week against Abu Sisi, who was abducted by Israeli security forces in the Ukraine, according to his family.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday refused to say why Abu Sisi was abducted, adding “it is not directly related to the Shalit affair. He has information about what is going on in Hamas and it is very important, not necessarily in connection with Shalit.”

Despite a gag order on the case, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Abu Sisi is a member of Hamas.

“He is a Hamas member, held legally in Israeli detention. He gave important information,” the prime minister said, without elaborating, during a televised interview.

Relatives of Abu Sisi, 42, deny that he is a militant. They also deny claims that he has information about abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The former Gazan engineer, who is being held in Shikma prison in Ashkelon, denied reports published this week by the German weekly Der Spiegel suggesting he has information about Shalit.

Basing its claim on a variety of sources, Der Spiegel said Abu Sisi was abducted to obtain new information about Shalit.

“The Mossad does not abduct a person and hold him without trial for six weeks unless he has information Israel wants,” the magazine said, citing a security source. “If Abu Sisi was merely a problematic figure, he would simply have been killed.”

Hamas denied yesterday that Abu Sisi is one of its members, accusing Israel of making that claim as “an attempt to cover the crime of Abu Sisi’s kidnapping.”

Noam Shalit, the father of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, called on Abu Sisi’s family yesterday to pressure Hamas to reach a deal that would bring about the release of his son.

In a phone conversation with Abu Sisi’s wife Veronica, Shalit urged her to pressure on Hamas to release his son. She told him in response that Abu Sisi has no connection to Hamas, but that her family will try to work toward Shalit’s release.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based journal Intelligence Online yesterday suggested seven Estonians abducted in Lebanon last week may have been taken by extremist Palestinian groups as a bargaining chip for Abu Sisi’s release.