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August 25, 2022 11:35 am

Israel Indicts West Bank Islamic Jihad Leader Whose Arrest Led to Gaza Fighting

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants gather at a mourning house for Palestinians who were killed during Israel-Gaza fighting, as a ceasefire holds, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israel on Thursday indicted West Bank Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al-Saadi, whose arrest earlier this month led to three days of cross-border hostilities between the IDF and the Iran-backed terror group in the Gaza Strip.

According to the indictment filed by Israeli military prosecutors, al-Saadi is charged with membership and activity in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, an illegal association; impersonation during arrest; incitement to terrorism; and helping to make contacts with “enemy elements,” the IDF said

Al-Saadi, 61, a long-sought West Bank PIJ leader, has been in detention since August 1, after being targeted and arrested by the IDF in the West Bank city of Jenin, following an investigation which gathered intelligence indicating that he was continuing to be active in the terrorist organization.

According to the indictment, al-Saadi is described as an influential senior official in the Islamic Jihad who worked alongside other operatives on core terrorist activities. He is accused of receiving funds from an Islamic Jihad operative in the Gaza Strip and continued involvement in violent Palestinian attacks. The indictment disclosed that al-Saadi identified himself as his brother when Israeli security forces arrived to arrest him.

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His arrest set off threats of a retaliatory attack by the PIJ, prompting Israel to close roads and crossings around the Gaza Strip for several days and launching pre-emptive airstrikes. During the three days of fighting between Israel and the PIJ, a barrage of 1,100 rockets were launched towards the country from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave, out of which 990 crossed into Israel and 200 were misfired.

Israeli military prosecutors requested to keep al-Saadi under arrest until the end of the legal proceedings of his case. The military court, at the request of the defense attorney, who asked to study the evidence, extended al-Saadi’s remand until Sunday to hold a hearing on his detention until the end of the legal proceedings.

Al-Saadi has been arrested several times in the past, serving a total of fifteen years in Israeli prison. He is thought to have played a central role in the buildup of the PIJ’s West Bank activities, in particular in Jenin, according to Israel’s security service.

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