The Palestinian engineer Fadi al-Batsh, who was killed in Malaysia last Saturday, helped mediate a recent shipment of North Korean weapons technology that was supposed to be delivered to the Gaza Strip, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing an intelligence official.
The shipment, which the Times reported was carrying “communications components used for guided munitions,” never reached Gaza because Egypt intercepted it in late 2017.
Batsh, 35, was shot dead Saturday morning by two men on a motorcycle in Kuala Lumpur while he was walking to a mosque for prayers, according to Mazlan Lazim, the city’s police chief.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Batsh, who according to Hamas was one of its members, was involved in developing rocket technology. Many Israeli news sites have reported he was a drone expert.
Several members of Batsh’s family from northern Gaza last Saturday accused the Mossad of killing their relative. Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said on the same day that the Islamist movement “holds Israel responsible” for his death.
Liberman has suggested that Batsh was killed in an internal Palestinian dispute.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last Saturday said the individuals suspected of killing Batsh were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency.
On Thursday, Batsh’s remains arrived in Gaza by way of the Rafah crossing, even though Israeli authorities called on Egypt earlier this week not to allow them to be sent to the coastal enclave via the crossing.
A formal ceremony was held at the crossing upon the arrival of Batsh’s body, which was attended by Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya and Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh, the murdered man’s cousin.
Hayya suggested Hamas would take future action against Israel.
“Oh occupation, the account between you and us has grown,” he said in a speech. “The day of punishment will inevitably come.”
Later on Thursday, a funeral for Batsh took place.
Tzur Goldin, the twin brother of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose remains are believed to be held in Hamas captivity, expressed frustration at the arrival of Batsh’s body in Gaza.
In a tweet, in which he tagged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Liberman, Goldin wrote: “Another victory for Hamas.”
Earlier this week, the Goldin family demanded that Batsh’s body not be returned to Gaza until their son’s is returned to Israel.