Abu Seesi
Abu SeesiFile photo

New details were made available on Monday in the story of Dirar Abu Seesi, the Gazan engineer who is currently being held in Israel.

An official statement released on Monday by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said: “On 19 February 2011, members of the national intelligence agency of Israel (Mossad) kidnapped Derar Mousa Yousef Abu Seesi, 42, while he was in the Ukraine. Mr. Abu Seesi is the Director of the Operations Department in the Gaza Power Generation Plant. Mossad then transferred Abu Seesi to Israel.”

The statement added that Abu Seesi is currently being detained in a prison in Ashkelon, and that on Sunday a lawyer from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights was able to visit him for the first time.

The statement then goes on to say that Abu Seesi claimed that during his train trip in Ukraine, three men, two of whom were in military uniform, approached the cars and asked him to show them his passport. When he refused, they threatened him and took his passport by force. According to Abu Seesi, the three then removed him from the train at the Poltava station, at which point they handcuffed him and put a cover on his head.

Abu Seesi said that he was then taken to Kiev, where he was kept in an apartment and questioned. He was then taken to a plane, he said, which flew for about four to five hours before landing at an airport somewhere. After half an hour the plane took off again and flew for about an hour, at which point he found himself in Israel.

Abu Seesi also claimed, according to the statement, that he was denied the right to meet with an attorney for 14 days, and that this was then extended by another 11 days. He told the lawyer that met him on Sunday that throughout the whole time he was under an intensive investigation without receiving the legal rights that he is entitled to.

An Israeli gag order on the details of the matter was in place until Sunday, though foreign press outlets had reported ten days earlier that Abu Seesi was missing and speculated that he was being held by Israel.

Israel's state prosecution informed the Petach Tikva Magistrates' Court last week that Abu Seesi was indeed in Israeli hands, and the court subsequently partially lifted the gag order. The matter reached the court after a "human rights" group funded by the New Israel Fund filed a motion requiring that the gag order be lifted.

Some reports on the issue, which confirmed that Abu Seesi had been a senior engineer in Gaza's electric company and power station, quoted Gaza sources that said he was considered loyal to Hamas. Others denied he had been politically active.

It has also been assessed that Ukrainian authorities probably cooperated in his arrest and transfer to Israel. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mikhail Azerov, who visited Israel last week, avoided questions on the affair and said only that his government was looking into it.