OFER PRISON, WEST BANK: Israel indicted a senior leader of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad movement on Thursday, whose arrest earlier this month sparked a brief conflict in Gaza and whose detention is likely to exacerbate tensions.
According to an Israeli military statement, the charges against Bassam Al-Saadi, who was arrested on Aug. 1 during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, include serving in an illegal organization and incitement.
Anticipating retaliation for Al-arrest, Saadi’s Israel launched “pre-emptive strikes” against his group in Gaza, where it is based, resulting in three days of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rockets.
He was imprisoned in an Israeli military prison.
According to the military, al-Saadi is a “influential senior official” in Islamic Jihad who worked on “core terrorist activities,” including receiving funds from Gaza.
Dawood Shehab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, claimed that Israel was fabricating charges based on “misleading and unfounded accusations.”
Shehab stated that the group would request intervention from Egypt and the United Nations, as well as a veiled threat to retaliate with violence if Al-Saadi was not released.
“Reaching a dead end would give us complete freedom to use other tracks and other options,” Shehab explained.
According to the army, the Israeli military prosecutor requested that Al-Saadi be held in custody for the remainder of the legal process.
Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a much larger Islamist group than Islamic Jihad, which stayed out of the cross-border fighting at the beginning of the month.