Israeli court sentences Palestinian rocket engineer to 21 years’ jail

Dirar Abu Sisi, detained by Israel in 2011, was a director of the Gaza Strip's sole power station

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An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian engineer on Tuesday to 21 years in prison for helping Gaza's Hamas militant group develop and improve their weapons capabilities.

Dirar Abu Sisi, detained by Israel in 2011, was a director of the Gaza Strip's sole power station. He said he was kidnapped during a visit to Ukraine in February and transferred secretly to Israel.

In a plea-bargain agreement that sealed a court case lasting over four years, Abu Sisi pleaded guilty to five counts which included membership of a militant organisation and building and modifying missiles used against Israel.

"The accused has been found guilty of offences carried out over a number of years against state security that include five specific accusations carried out by him," part of the ruling by a three-judge panel at Beersheba District Court said.

Abu Sisi originally denied wrongdoing and Hamas had said he was not a member of their organization but in the amended indictment which led to the plea bargain and the conviction, he admitted the charges.

"There is no dispute over the severity of the accused's actions. He was one of the top people involved in improving the destructive ability of Hamas's munitions and rockets and he was dominant in facilitating Hamas's ability to strike Israeli soldiers and civilians more effectively," the ruling added.

Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave controlled by Hamas, have over years fired thousands of rockets and mortar bombs at Israel but the firing has largely subsided since a 50-day war last year, in which more than 2,100 Gazans and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.

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