Shin Bet files indictment against ‘rocket godfather’

Abu Sisi not only developed missiles in Gaza but was allegedly responsible for upgrading older rockets and increasing their range.

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sis in court 311 (R) (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sis in court 311 (R)
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Calling him the “rocket godfather” of the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) filed an indictment on Monday against Dirar Abu Sisi, a Palestinian engineer from Gaza, detailing his rise to prominence as Hamas’s leading missile developer.
Abu Sisi, a director of the Gaza Strip’s sole power station, was reportedly abducted by Israel over a month ago as he was traveling on a train in Ukraine and brought to Israel for interrogation. On Monday, mystery continued to surround the details of his capture and how he was transferred to the Jewish state.
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According to the indictment, Abu Sisi received his doctorate at the Kharkov Military Engineering Academy and studied under Prof. Konstantin Petrovich, an expert in Scud missile control systems.
During his studies, Abu Sisi acquired extensive knowledge in missile development, control systems, propulsion and rocket stabilization.
After returning to the Gaza Strip and parallel to his work as an engineer for the Gaza electric company, Abu Sisi was secretly recruited into Hamas by the military commander of the terrorist organization at the time, Salah Shehadeh, and began working as one of their leading engineers for short- and long-range missiles.
Abu Sisi not only developed missiles in Gaza but was also, according to the charge sheet, responsible for upgrading thousands of older rockets and increasing their range and penetration capabilities.
According to the indictment, which was filed on Monday in the Beersheba District Court, Abu Sisi was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, the production of illegal weaponry, assistance to an illegal organization, and a variety of other crimes.
During his interrogation, officials said, Abu Sisi provided valuable intelligence information on Hamas’s military wing, its different branches and the decision-making process within the terror group.
In 2002, Abu Sisi met Sheikh Nizar Rayan, a spiritual leader of Hamas’s military wing, who was later assassinated during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. Rayan introduced Abu Sisi to various senior Hamas operatives, including Shehadeh. Due to his education as an engineer, Abu Sisi was asked by Shehadeh to assist in developing weaponry for Hamas.
He later joined a committee that was responsible for the research and development of weaponry, and was tasked with electrical engineering, dealing mostly with developing boosters and fins that stabilized and enhanced the range of Hamas’s arsenal of rockets.
In 2005, the committee asked Abu Sisi to begin working on increasing the range of rockets manufactured domestically in the Gaza Strip. Due to his involvement, Hamas was able to increase the range of the rockets from 6 km. to 9 km., and subsequently to 15 km.
In 2007, Abu Sisi assisted Hamas in increasing the rockets’ range to 22 km. He was then asked to increase the range to between 37 km. and 45 km., and participated in several experiments during which rockets were tested and fired into the Mediterranean.
These attempts did not succeed.
One of the anti-tank missiles that Abu Sisi helped develop is the Yassin, which has the ability to penetrate between 16 cm. and 26 cm. of reinforced steal. He also worked to increase the penetration to 37 cm.
Abu Sisi also developed an anti-tank mortar shell called Abu Rassin, which has a range of 100 meters and can penetrate 87 cm. of steel. He later made efforts to increase penetration to 100 cm, and worked on another anti-tank missile called Al Batar, which has a 100-m. range.
With Abu Sisi’s aid, Hamas translated Russian manuals of the Igla-S shoulder-to-air missile into Arabic.
After Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Hamas asked Abu Sisi to help establish a military academy in the Gaza Strip. In this position, Abu Sisi created a plan for the school that included three main subjects: military, administration and religion.
The plan was then submitted to various Hamas leaders during meetings in Abu Sisi’s house in 2009. In 2010, according to the indictment, Abu Sisi met with Hamas operatives from Syria during a trip to Mecca.
Abu Sisi denies wrongdoing and has said he was not a member of the organization.
He is married to a Ukrainian, and his relatives say he went to arrange residency in Ukraine for himself and his family.