With a partial gag in place, Israeli media can report on what the foreign media are saying about the extraordinary rendition of Dirar Abu Seesi from Ukraine to an Israeli prison, but they can’t generate original domestic reporting on the matter. This is course doesn’t seem to apply to the security services, who feel the need to get their hinted version of the charges against Abu Seesi into the media. So two Haaretz reporters with close ties to the intelligence services have published stories that by winks and nods hint that Abu Seesi is charged with aiding and abetting Hamas weapons manufacturing.
The problem with reporting on a national security state like Israel concerning a matter under gag (as this one is), is that no one, not the reporter or the unnamed source, can be explicit. It’s all done with a whisper. So here is what Amos Harel writes in Haaretz in an article describing the lengths to which Iran is going to train Gaza “engineers” (in all Israeli reporting on Abe Seesi’s case he has been called “the engineer”) to produce weapons:
The Iranians are placing an emphasis on training “engineers” who will serve as repositories of expertise for the manufacture of weapons, and who can organize independent Palestinian activity in this sphere.
Yossi Melman’s case is even more suggestive. His article describes an upcoming visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov to Israel (during which one wonders whether this case will be under discussion). Read this article a bit between the lines:
Israel and Ukraine Strengthen Mutual Collaboration
…In the context of such collaboration, there have been contacts between the security forces of each country and exchange of security information between them.
Within the framework of Ukraine’s pro-western approach, under the leadership of [former] Pres. Victor Yushenko, Ukraine collaborated with the CIA in the international war against terror, even permitting CIA personnel to work on its territory under the rubric of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. This was part of a wider program under which the U.S. asked countries in western and eastern Europe, the Middle East, and southeast Asia to detain those suspected of involvement with terror networks within their own territory and imprison them in secret detention facilities called “black holes” whose existence was not acknowledged. Afterwards, the detainees were flown in special planes procured by the CIA to third party nations or Guantanamo. Ukraine played a role in the detention, imprisonment and transfers that happened under this program.
There appears to be at least a strong hint on Melman’s part that Abu Seesi’s kidnapping was a similar act of extraordinary rendition in which the Ukrainian security services collaborated by first detaining and then holding Abu Seesi, later handing him over to Israeli agents who whisked him to Israel, in precisely the fashion described in Melman’s article. Yes, this is in part like parsing a Kabuki drama. Everything is through hints and whispers. But given the constraints under which everyone plays this game, Melman appears to be giving us the tools to understand what happened to Abu Seesi. Harel appears to be telling us why, at least from the security services’ perspective.
It’s worth noting that Israel’s Mossad has a long history of abducting enemies of the state from foreign soil and bringing them to Israel for detention. This began of course with Adolph Eichmann in the 1960s and several decades later Mordecai Vanunu was drugged and shipped back to Israel for having the temerity of tattling to a British newspaper about the Dimona reactor. There are claims that Israel abducted Ali Reza Asgari, the Iranian general, in Istanbul in 2007. Now Abu Deesi.
I should add that we still have heard nothing from the Israeli authorities about why the Gaza engineer was arrested and what he’s alleged to have done. We will have to continue to maintain pressure in order to get this to happen. For instance, I would urge Abu Seesi’s family and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has taken up Abu Seesi’s case, to pressure Ukraine’s prime minister to press Israel for answers about what happened, to account for the Gazan, and accord him the rights accorded to all prisoners (to consult counsel, visit family, be free from abuse and torture). Ukraine owes it to this man.
On a humorous note, Yediot is reporting erroneously that the first news of Abu Seesi’s kidnapping was reported in an Israel Russian language news portal (it was actually first reported in the Ukrainian media) which credited as the original source an “Israeli blogger named Silverstein!!” After Channel 2 News called me “the Wikileaks of Israel” do you think this means that Bibi Netanyahu might bestow honorary Israeli citizenship on me for my services to Israeli democracy??
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.