A Hamas-affiliated Palestinian engineer from the Gaza Strip was shot dead on Saturday near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in an assassination blamed on the Mossad.
Hamas threatened retaliation against Israel for the slaying.
The dead man was an expert on attack-drone and rocket systems, according to Israeli sources.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Dr. Fadi Muhammad al-Batash must not be brought to burial in Gaza until bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul
are returned to Israel for proper burial.
Gaza-based Palestinian news site Safa reported that Batash, 35, was leaving a mosque after morning prayers in the town of Gombak when he was struck by close to 20 bullets fired by two people on a motorcycle.
In a statement released on its website, Hamas said that Batash “was working for the Palestinian cause.”
“The Islamic Resistance Movement mourns the son of its sons, the righteous, and a knight of its knights, a scholar of young Palestine scholars and the guardian of the Book of Allah, the son of Jabalya the Mujahedin,” read the statement. “The martyr was distinguished by his excellence and scientific creativity and has important contributions in this area and participated in international conferences in the field of energy. The martyr was an example in calling God and working for the Palestinian cause.”
Hamas dispatched a senior delegation to meet with Malaysian officials and follow up on the investigation of the shooting.
Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batash accused the Mossad of being responsible for the assassination and calling on Malaysian authorities to conduct a “comprehensive and rapid investigation” before his killers escaped.
“We, as a family, accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination of Dr. Fadi Muhammad al-Batash, a researcher in energy sciences,” he told Al-Mayadeen news network.
Family members also accused the Mossad of carrying out the attack on the engineer who was originally from Jabalya in the Gaza Strip before he left for Malaysia in 2011. Batash, who was married with three children, received his BA from the Islamic University of Gaza and completed his PhD in Malaysia.
“We accuse the Israeli Mossad of the assassination of our son, the energy researcher,” said a statement issued on behalf of the family. “Fadi was meant to fly on Sunday to Turkey to chair an international conference on energy.”
According to reports in Malaysia, police believe that Batash was “targeted” by two people who were riding a BMW motorcycle and had waited for him to arrive at the mosque for some 20 minutes.
“This was a targeted killing and not a terror[ist] attack because there were other people at the scene but the assassins focused only on [Batash],” the police chief was quoted as saying, adding that “we’re not ruling out any line of inquiry, including the possibility that elements identified with ISIS are behind the assassinations.”
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Batash had also been an expert in rocket building and that authorities were investigating all angles into his death and had ordered the police to cooperate with Interpol, Aseanapol and other related agencies.
“I am saddened by all this and according to police information, the victim had been staying here for 10 years and was an expert in electrical engineering and [building] rockets,” he was quoted by the New Straits Times
“His killing could have some links with foreign intelligence agencies or he may also be considered a liability to nations ‘unfriendly’ to Palestine.”
In December 2016, Hamas’s chief drone expert and engineer, Muhammad Zawari, was shot dead in Tunisia in an assassination also blamed on the Mossad
According to Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, Zawari, who had been a member of the group for 10 years and supervising its drone program, was gunned down in his car near his home close to the Tunisian city of Sfax.