Israel charges Islamic Jihad leader whose arrest sparked violence in Gaza
The charges against Bassam Al-Saadi, who was arrested on August 1 during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, include serving in an illegal organization and inciting, according to an Israeli military statement.
Anticipating retaliation for Al-Saadi’s arrest, Israel launched what it called pre-emptive strikes against its group in the Gaza Strip, where it is based, leading to three days of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rockets.
He was detained in an Israeli military prison.
Al-Saadi, according to the military, is a “senior influential official” of Islamic Jihad who said he has worked on “key terrorist activities” which include receiving funds from Gaza.
A spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Dawood Shehab, said Israel was fabricating accusations based on “misleading and baseless allegations”.
Shehab said the group would call for Egypt and the United Nations to intervene and issued a veiled threat that could have responded with violence had Al-Saadi not been released.
“Hitting a dead end would give us the full right to use other tracks and other options,” Shehab said.
The Israeli military prosecutor asked that Al-Saadi be held in custody for the remainder of the legal process, the army said.
Gaza is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist group much larger than Islamic Jihad, which stayed out of cross-border fighting earlier this month.