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Dirar Abu Seesi

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Dirar Abu Seesi
Native name
ضرار أبو سيسي

Dirar Abu Seesi or Abu Sisi (Arabic: ضرار أبو سيسي‎; born in 1969 in Jordan)[1] was a deputy engineer for the Gaza Strip's sole electrical plant, which provides 25% of Gaza's power.[2][3] Israel alleged that he is a Hamas weapons engineer. In February 2011, he traveled to Ukraine, his wife's native country, to apply for citizenship, after coming to believe that Gaza was no longer a safe place to raise his six children. He disappeared in Poltava on February 19, and later turned up in an Israeli prison[4] after being kidnapped by Israeli intelligence personnel.[5] On April 4, 2011 he was indicted for his aid to Hamas[6] and was convicted on March 30, 2015 in a plea bargain.[7]

He is known by Israeli security services as the “father of the rockets”.[7][8]

Hamas career

Abu Sisi was recruited into Hamas in 2002 by Sheikh Nizar Rayan. He was asked by Salah Shehade to work to develop weapons for Hamas. Working under Mohammed Deif "Abu Sisi was responsible for electrical engineering and dealt mostly with developing boosters and fins that stabilized and enhanced rocket propulsion. These are two factors that are key for increasing a rocket's range and subsequent penetration of a target. In 2005, Abu Sisi was asked by the committee to begin working on increasing the range of rockets that were manufactured domestically in the Gaza Strip. Due to his involvement with Hamas, he was able to increase the range of the rockets from six to nine kilometers, and subsequently to 15 kilometers. In 2007, Abu Sisi assisted Hamas in increasing range of rockets to 22 kilometers. He was then asked by Hamas to increase the range to between 37 and 45 kilometers, and participated in several experiments during which rockets were tested and fired into the Mediterranean."[9][10]

Under a command from Mohammed Deif and Ahmed Jabari, Abu Sisi founded a military academy that taught "military tactics and techniques," and "human resources management, time management, crisis management, and general administration."[7][10]


On the evening of February 18, after formally filing the papers for citizenship, Abu Seesi was traveling by train to the Kiev airport for a reunion with his brother Yussef, who was residing in the Netherlands and whom he had not seen in 15 years. Just outside the city of Poltava, two men, who the family believes were Ukrainian security agents, entered the train and removed Dirar. After that, he disappeared. His wife Veronika, who was in Ukraine at the time as well, did not hear from him for a week. During that period of silence, she summoned the Ukrainian press and made allegations that the Mossad had kidnapped him.[4] On February 27, the Palestinian Interior Ministry demanded that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry disclose the reasons for his disappearance.[1]

Dalia Kerstein, executive director of the Israeli human rights NGO, HaMoked, confirmed that the Gazan engineer was in an Israeli prison. Kerstein identified Abu Seesi’s Israeli attorney Michal Orkabi, who confirmed that she represented him, but she could provide no further information due to a security gag order imposed by the Petah Tikva Magistrates' Court preventing her from speaking about the case.[3][11] On March 20, the gag order was partially lifted with Israel admitting it was holding Abu Seesi.[12]

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees became involved in the case when it determined that Abu Seesi was classified as a refugee. An Associated Press article revealed that the UNHCR's Ukrainian representative asked Ukraine to account for any role its own officials may have played in the disappearance.[4]

Veronika Abu Seesi claims that Israel kidnapped him because he was the “brain of the power system” and that he had rebuilt it himself after it was destroyed during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post both reported that Abu Seesi had devised a technique, enabling the plant to rely solely on diesel fuel supplied by Egypt that could fully power the plant and enabling it to bypass Israel as its sole source of fuel to run the plant.[11][13] The German weekly Der Spiegel indicated that Abu Seesi's abduction was owing to information he had in relation to missing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was being held by Palestinian militants in Gaza.[14] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a live interview with YouTube World View and Channel Two News, said that Abu Seesi is a Hamas man being held in Israel, and he disclosed valuable information.[15] Israeli officials were insinuating earlier that Abu Seesi was involved in weaponry for Hamas.[12]


On April 4, 2011, Abu Seesi was indicted in the Beersheba District Court, charged with "membership in a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, and the production of illegal weaponry, assistance to an illegal organization and other various crimes". According to the indictment, Abu Seesi was the central developer of the Qassam rocket, among other rockets and anti-tank missiles, was responsible for upgrading older rockets for Hamas and served as the commander of Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Military Academy.[6][9]

On March 30, 2015, Abu Seesi was convicted in the Beersheba District Court after pleading guilty as part of a bargain arrangement. As part of the deal, the prosecution asked for 21 years imprisonment. While the charges of attempted murder were dropped, other charges such as planning to commit murder, producing weapons, and activity in a terror organization, remained.[7] In July 2015, Abu Seesi was sentenced to 21 years in prison.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Palestinian Ministry of Interior addresses urgent appeal for Ukrainian Interior Ministry and demands to disclose the reasons for disappearance of Abu Sisi". Palestine Ministry of Interior. February 27, 2011. Archived from the original on September 25, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ "Gaza power plant reopens after Hamas does deal". Middle East Online. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Radio Liberty: Palestinian Dirar Abu Sisi put into Israeli prison on February 19". Interfax Ukraine. March 16, 2011. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c "UN official: Israel kidnapped Palestinian engineer from Ukraine". Haaretz. March 10, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  5. ^ http://ukrpress.net/node/1726
  6. ^ a b "'Abducted' Palestinian Dirar Abu Sisi on Hamas charges'". BBC News. April 4, 2001. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Hamas engineer convicted of terror offenses in plea bargain; could get 21 years". Haaretz. March 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "'Father of rockets' in court". The Sydney Morning Herald. April 6, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Abu Sisi charged with arms development". The Jerusalem Post. April 4, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Palestinian engineer admits helping Hamas develop rockets to be fired at Israel". Haaretz. August 11, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Joshua Mitnick; James Marson (March 11, 2011). "Palestinian Missing in Ukraine Turns Up in Israeli Jail". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "ISRAEL: Israel admits to holding missing Gaza engineer". Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Greenberg, Joel (March 11, 2011). "Gaza power plant engineer being held in Israeli prison". Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  14. ^ "Palestinian abducted in Ukraine 'has Shalit info'". Yahoo! News. Berlin. AFP. March 30, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2011. A Palestinian engineer was abducted in Ukraine on an Israeli request because he might know where missing soldier Gilad Shalit is, Germany's Spiegel magazine reported on Wednesday.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Elior Levy (March 30, 2011). "Abu Sisi's wife: He never spoke about Shalit". Ynetnews. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  16. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4680012,00.html

External links