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Israel Files Charges Against Abusisi, Accuses Him Of Being Hamas Weapons Maker – OpEd


Monda the Israeli State prosecutor released its charges (full Hebrew version, this is a partial English translation prepared by Dena Shunra) against Dirar Abusisi.  And to read it, you’d think he was the Werner von Braun of Hamas, it’s chief rocket designer and the brains behind the movement’s most advanced weapons systems.  How a simple man, father of six, and electrical engineer helping run the enclave’s sole power plant becomes such an eminent figure is a bit hard to fathom.

But let Shabak and Mossad lay it out for you.  First, he enrolled in a Ukrainian PhD program in electrical engineering, where his PhD advisor was Constantine Petrovich, a supposed expert in the development of SCUD rocketry.  Prof. Petrovich was apparently in on the plan to turn Abusisi into the mastermind of Hamas’ weapons development program.  As part of his devious, conniving plan:

[He intended] to take part in lessons and academic activity relating to ballistic weaponry and of having obtained extensive knowledge in the field of developing missiles and mechanisms for the control, propulsion, and stabilization of them.

When he returned to Gaza, he allegedly began his life as a covert Hamas operative, recruited by Hamas senior leader, Nizar Rayan, conveniently assassinated by Israel during Cast Lead and not available to contradict the “evidence” offered.  The charges also note the involvement of another Hamas military figure, Salah Shehadeh in Abusisi’s military career.  Shehadeh too was murdered by Israel.


One factor I find astonishing is that the charge sheet practically lays out the entire military leadership of Hamas that was involved in weapons development.  I’ve never know Shabak or Aman to give away such information for free and make is so easily accessible.  In fact, the charge sheet is a treasure trove of data over which Hamas intelligence operatives will feast their eyes.  I’m guessing the reason it was willing to be so explicit is either it’s killed all of these individuals and no longer cares about revealing what it knows about the them, or it’s speaking a load of rubbish (or both).

In fact, if Abusisi was so instrumental in this weapons program why wasn’ tthere a single attempt made on his life.  Many or most of the other figures mentioned as being his mentors were either killed or targeted, but not Abusisi?  Why?

Interestingly, the charges claim he joined the organization while working for the Gaza electrical utility and that such affiliation was “prohibited.”  Prohibited by whom?  By Hamas?  Why would Hamas prohibit an electrical worker from being a member?  And if they’re claiming this occurred when the PA ran Gaza, and there was such a prohibition, how is a violation of the rules in Gaza subject to criminal charges within Israel?

Besides, just yesterday I linked to an Israeli press report that interviewed two fellow power plant workers who emphatically denied he was a Hamas member.  Either this guy is a super-spy able to conceal his activities from fellow workers who visited his home numerous times; or the Shabak has gone completely off the rails with these charges.

The charge sheet continues breathlessly linking Abusisi to a leader of the Hamas military wing:

The Accused did this [ran the Gaza power plant] within the framework of his membership of a committee headed by senior Hamas activists Muhammad Dief, which dealt in the development and improvement of various types of missiles and mortars, including the Qassem, Yassine, Albattar, Abu Rassine, and Albana.

Then follows a litany of various weapons Abusisi is given sole credit for developing including the Qassam (22 km range), Yassine anti-tank missile, missiles capable of damaging Israeli armored personnel carriers, fins which stabilize the Al Battar missile.   Finally, he is accused of transferring Russian rocketry research and development to Hamas (specifically the Igla missile).

The icing on the cake is this charge that Abusisi planned to found the equivalent of Hamas’ West Point, a military academy that would train its fighters in advanced weapons manufacture:

[He developed] the idea of establishing a military academy that would train the officers and commanding ranks in the Hamas for their functionality under warfare and took upon himself the task of establishing and managing the military academy…

According to Israeli intelligence, creation of the program came as part of a study by Hamas of its failures during Cast Lead.  It’s of course entirely self-serving for the Shabak to claim Hamas admitted operational failure during the Gaza war.

If any of these charges are true (which I doubt) Abusisi has to be one of the worst rocket designers in the history of the field.  Hamas does not have missiles capable of disabling Israeli tanks or armor.  Its rockets are still notoriously unstable and ineffective.  What has this engineer’s vaunted skills actually done to harm Israel?

To show how shabby and contrived these charges are, in one passage it says the charges against him involve his participation in Hamas weapons making from 2002-2008.  And in another section it claims he developed the concept for the military academy around the time of Operation Cast Lead, which was in 2009.

The charge sheet makes no claims whatsover about Gilad Shalit, which proves that interviews in which Bibi Netanyahu made such a claim were patently false and misleading.

Here’s what I think may be Israel’s motives.  It has not been able to stop rockets landing in southern Israel and it has not been able to free Gilad Shalit.  In Abusisi, they’ve got a twofer: they can reassure Israelis from the south that they’ve nabbed one of their worst nemeses and they can score points among the nationalist right by claiming they’ve nabbed someone who has specific knowledge about Shalit which could lead to his freedom.  As I’ve already written, this is an incredibly cynical ploy desgined to manipulate the fears of the Israeli public.

The charge sheet mentions nothing about his activity in Ukraine and does not question his claim that he was actually planning to become a Ukrainian citizen and leave Gaza for good.  So Mossad nabbed him after he’d ended his affiliation with Hamas and after he left the field of battle.  It’s like shooting someone in the back as they run away from you.

Channel 10′s Tzinor Layla program offered me my first interview on Israeli TV. The interviewer did a relatively good job. But there were two smart aleck program hosts, London and Kirschenbaum, who insisted on adding their brand of cynicism and levity to the proceedings. One asked how I supported myself and the blog (presumably searching for those Saudi petrodollars) and the other geezer suggested (only half in jest) that Ukraine or China might want to kidnap me, bring me to Israel, where I too could be tried right alongside Abusisi. I thought it was hilarious too. Just like you.

This articlefirst appeared at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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