The top member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, whose arrest in the occupied West Bank earlier this month helped spark three days of intense fighting in Gaza, has been charged with terrorism, the Israeli military announced on Thursday.
As part of the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire that stopped the fighting, Islamic Jihad had sought the release of Bassam al-Saadi and another Palestinian detainee on a protracted hunger strike.
The indictment sends a message that those demands won’t be satisfied.
Al-Saadi, 62, is charged with “committing crimes of affiliation with and activity in an illegal association,” receiving money from Islamic Jihad in Gaza, “impersonation, incitement, and aiding contact with enemy elements,” the military said.
He also faces charges of “impersonation, incitement, and aiding contact with enemy elements.”
Islamic Jihad is a Palestinian militant organization supported by Iran that opposes the existence of Israel and has carried out countless deadly attacks over the years directed at Israeli civilians.
It is active in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Earlier this month, a military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin resulted in the capture of al-Saadi. His arrest prompted Islamic Jihad to declare it was “going on alert.”
Israel claims that the group was preparing a Gaza-based retaliation attack. Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza in response to what it claimed was an impending danger, leading to the death of a top Islamic Jihad commander.
A few hours later, the jihadists started firing hundreds of rockets at Israel.
As a result of his affiliation with Islamic Jihad, Al-Saadi has spent a total of 15 years behind bars in Israeli prisons.
In two separate incidents in 2002, Israel killed both his sons— Islamic Jihad militants—and demolished his home in Jenin.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are regarded as terrorist organizations by Israel and the West due to the numerous deadly attacks they have carried out on Israeli citizens over the years.