Israel confirms it is holding missing Palestinian

AP News
Posted: Jul 10, 2013 12:40 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who disappeared in Egypt last month is being detained by Israel for "security crimes," an Israel court confirmed Wednesday, a month after his family charged he was abducted.

The court partially lifted a gag order on the case, identifying the man as Wael Abu Reda, but did not say how he was detained or how he ended up in Israel.

The man's wife, Iman, said she was traveling with her husband when he received a phone call from someone asking him to meet in Egypt's Sinai desert. "So he went," she said.

She said her husband was missing for eight days when his brother, Mansour, received a call from an Israeli official saying he was in Israel.

The Sinai Peninsula is a lawless area bordering the Gaza Strip where Islamic militants are active. She said her husband was not connected to any armed groups.

"My husband does not belong to any faction, neither political nor military. Egypt holds all of the responsibility," she said.

Mansour Abu Reda said his brother traveled to Cairo seeking to obtain Egyptian citizenship and to get medical treatment for his son. Gaza residents often go abroad for medical services not available in Gaza.

He demanded answers from both Israel and Egypt.

"Israel is responsible for his life, and human rights groups must act to secure his release," he said. "We don't know why they took him, and Egyptian security must tell us how they kidnapped him from Egypt."

In Israel, the Beersheba Magistrates Court on Wednesday extended for 10 days a blackout on details of the case, releasing only Abu Reda's name and the fact that he was detained for "crimes against the security of the country."

Stephen Moore

The case is reminiscent of another Palestinian from Gaza, Dirar Abu Sisi, who vanished on a Ukrainian sleeper train in 2011 and later surfaced in an Israeli prison. The details of his capture and transfer remain unclear. Israel confirmed it was holding him only a month after his disappearance.

Israel accuses Abu Sisi, an engineer, of masterminding the Hamas rocket program and training gunmen in Gaza. He is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons production. He denies the charges, saying he was a civilian engineer at Gaza's power plant.

Hamas is considered a terror group by Israel, the U.S. and EU due to its rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.