Palestinians say Israel abducted Gazan in Egypt

Wael Abu Rida was arrested by Israel for security offenses; PA report quotes suspect as saying he was snatched while in Sinai.

Wael Abu Rida 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Wael Abu Rida 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
GAZA - The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank released a report on Tuesday quoting a Palestinian held by Israel as saying he had been snatched while visiting Egypt's Sinai region last month.
The report by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners could embarrass Israel and the Egyptian government, which is struggling to impose order in the lawless Sinai desert.
The report said that Wael Abu Rida, who comes from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, told his lawyer while in Israeli custody that he had been in Egypt seeking medical treatment for his son in June when he received a call summoning him to Rafah, a town straddling the Egypt-Gaza border about 7 km (4 miles) from Israeli territory.
The former Palestinian policeman departed for the rendezvous and disappeared, ending up in Israel, according to the report.
Israel indicted Abu Rida on July 19 for attacks on Israeli citizens on behalf of Islamic Jihad and other Gaza-based armed factions.
The Palestinian report quotes Abu Rida, 35, as saying a driver on the Sinai side of Rafah "set him up," citing as its source Karim Ajwa, a Palestinian lawyer it said visited him in his Israeli jail.
Ajwa could not immediately be reached for comment. Israel's Prisons Authority would not confirm that Abu Rida had met the lawyer while in Israeli custody.
Abu Rida described going to the driver's house in Sinai, where other men were present, and drinking a glass of juice that had apparently been laced with sedative, the report said.
He then lost consciousness and woke up in an Israeli interrogation facility.
"He was kidnapped from Sinai," said the report, without naming the Sinai residents it alleged were involved.
Egyptian officials had no immediate comment.
Mohammed Jabarin, an Israeli lawyer representing Abu Rida, declined to discuss the circumstances that led to his client's incarceration, citing a court-issued gag order.
Jabarin has denied the charges against Abu Rida, saying they were based on false confessions to his interrogators.
Locked in a struggle with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions in the Gaza Strip, the Israelis have struck both there and abroad against targets suspected of being part of weapons supply lines to the Palestinian enclave.
Dubai accused Israeli spies of killing a Hamas arms procurer in the Gulf emirate in 2010. The next year, a Gazan engineer was abducted while visiting Ukraine and is now being prosecuted in Israel as a Hamas rocket expert - charges he has denied.
Any such actions in Egypt would be especially touchy, given widespread Egyptian resentment of Israel, although the two countries coordinate closely on security in the Sinai.
Under the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979, the desert peninsula is mostly demilitarized. Its spreading disarray, in parallel with political crises in Cairo, has allowed Islamist militants to take root and facilitated arms smuggling to Gaza.
Islamic Jihad has denied any link to Abu Rida and has accused the Israelis of secretly abducting him in Sinai - a charge also made by Hamas, though neither has provided evidence.