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Israel Indicts Palestinian Engineer as Hamas Rocket Designer

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, center, attends a court session in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, April 4, 2011

A court in Israel has charged a kidnapped Palestinian engineer with designing rockets for the Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian, Dirar Abu Sisi, disappeared from a sleeper train in Ukraine in February. His family alleged he was abducted by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Israel later said it was holding him in a prison in the city of Ashkelon.

The indictment filed in Beersheva district court on Monday accuses the 42-year old engineer with activities in a terrorist organization, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and offenses related to arms production.

It says the engineer helped Hamas increase the range and steel-piercing ability of its locally-made rockets, creating a greater threat to Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The Israeli lawyer for Abu Sisi denied the charges, calling them inflated and unconnected to reality.

Abu Sisi is a senior official at the only electrical power plant in the Gaza Strip.

During his brief courtroom appearance, he accused Israel of seizing him to gain information about Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

Abu Sisi alleged that Israel falsified the charges against him when it became clear he knew nothing about the captured soldier.

The engineer's family says Abu Sisi has no connection to Hamas and that he had been in Ukraine, his wife's homeland, to apply for residency.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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