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Report: 'Hamas engineer' cooperating with interrogators

Aug. 11, 2011 7:16 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2011 2:49 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- A Gaza engineer kidnapped by Israel earlier this year in the Ukraine has provided interrogators information on Hamas' technical capabilities, an Israeli newspaper said Thursday.

Dirar Abu Sisi, head of the Gaza power plant, was kidnapped in Kiev in February. After being brought to Israel, he was accused of working with Hamas to improve its rocket technologies. He has denied the allegations.

On Thursday, the Israeli news site Ynet published what it said were excerpts "cleared for publication" by the Beersheba District Court following an appeal to a government ban on reporting details of the case.

According to the report, Abu Sisi told his interrogators that following Operation Cast Lead, Hamas' Mohammed Deif and military wing head Ahmed Jabari decided to place him in charge of a new military academy.

"An analysis of the war with Israel was undertaken. It found that a large number of Hamas activists ran away from their positions. A failure occurred in decision-making coupled with an inability to use arms during the battle – because of fear," he is quoted as saying.

"A program of study had to be created, in order to improve the situation."

Israel claims Abu Sisi served as a kind of consultant for Hamas' rocket manufacturers.

"I assisted Hamas in developing their missile capabilities, by identifying and handing over mathematical equations that improve the metal pipe's ability to withstand pressure and heat," he is quoted as saying.

"I was present when a missile was test-fired at the sea in Khan Younis."

According to the report, Abu Sisi has expressed regret for assisting Hamas.

But his family and Palestinian officials have denied any connection to Hamas.

Abu Sisi's sister Suzanne said earlier this year that he was "not linked in any way to any political faction, he was working as the head of the operations of the plant before Hamas came to power, and he continues his work as a university professor."

The Palestinian Authority's ambassador in the Ukraine has also disputed Israel's claims.

Abu Sisi disappeared in March while travelling on a train in Ukraine and Israel later announced that it was holding him at Shikma prison in the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon.

The following month he faced charges in an Israeli court.

"Abu Sisi is accused of nine charges regarding activity in a terrorist organization, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arms production offenses," a summary of the charges said at the time.

It said that he helped improve the performance of 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."

His Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said in April that her client had made confessions "under very heavy duress which I would characterise as torture."

Hamas denies that Abu Sisi had any connection to the organization.

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.

AFP contributed to this report.
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