Dirar Abu Sisi, still being held in solitary confinement in an Israeli jail, was born in 1969 in Jordan. He is the Deputy Engineer for the Gaza Strip‘s sole power plant, which produces 25% of Gaza’s total electricity needs. In February 2011, he traveled to the Ukraine, his wife’s country, to apply for citizenship. He disappeared in Poltava on February 19, and later turned up in an Israeli prison.
On the evening of February 18, after filing the papers for citizenship, Abu Sisi was on a train heading to the Kiev airport for a reunion with his brother Yussef, who lives in the Netherlands and whom he had not seen in 15 years. Just outside the city of Poltava, a man, who the family believes was Ukrainian security agent, entered the train and removed Dirar. After that, he disappeared. His wife Veronika, who was also in Ukraine at the time, did not hear from him for a week. During that period of silence, she summoned the Ukrainian press and said she believed that the Mossad had kidnapped him. On February 27, the Palestinian Interior Ministry demanded that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry disclose the reasons for his disappearance.
“I’m really sorry that heartless politicians and officials often decide the fate of ordinary people in Ukraine, cruelly destroying their lives,” Abu Sisi told the Kyiv Post in answers to questions asked through his lawyer.
Dalia Kerstein, executive director of the Israeli human rights NGO, HaMoked, confirmed that the Gazan engineer was in an Israeli prison. Kerstein identified Abu Sisi’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. On March 20, the gag order was partially lifted, with Israel admitting it was holding Abu Sisi.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees became involved in the case when it determined that Abu Sisi 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.
Veronika Abu Sisi claims that Israel kidnapped him because he was the “brain of the power system” as he had rebuilt it himself after it was destroyed during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post both report that Abu Sisi had devised a technique enabling the plant to rely solely on diesel fuel supplied by Egypt that could fully power the plant. This would enable it to bypass Israel as its sole source of fuel to run the plant.
‘Rendered’ in a coffin
Obada Bilal, imprisoned in the same Israeli jail, told Al-Aqsa Satellite Channel in an interview after his release, “I met Al-Sisi during interrogation. He told me that a Ukrainian intelligence man approached him on the train and asked for his passport. He was then surrounded by a large number of Ukrainian intelligence services and driven in a black car for six hours. He was handcuffed and blindfolded. Seven people from the Israeli intelligence were waiting for him. He was then interrogated, placed in a coffin, and taken to what he believed was the Kiev airport. The plane in which he was transported landed first in an unknown place, then flew on again before landing at Ben Gurion airport. He was finally taken out of the coffin when he reached Israel.”
In reality, the first coffin was merely replaced with a slightly larger one – a solitary confinement cell in an Israeli jail, in which he has been held since May 2011, and where he remains to this day despite the recent agreement guaranteeing his transfer to an even bigger coffin, the mainstream of his Israeli prison.
Dirar Abu-Sisi told Prisoners Club’s lawyer “I am still held in solitary confinement.” “I will go on hunger strike if the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) does not transfer me to a prison just like others prisoners.”