A Palestinian woman walks past a wall with graffiti depicting a gunman from the Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, in the West Bank village of Awarta. The graffiti reads "All of us are martyrs.".
(photo credit: ABED OMAR QUSINI/REUTERS)
The Mossad has assassinated a Hamas terrorist operating out of Tunisia known to Israeli security forces as “the engineer,” according to Tunisian media and Hamas.
Reports indicate a professional hit in the Thursday killing of Muhammad Zawari, 49. Eight suspects have been arrested and various vehicles, weapons and mobile devices have been seized.
Zawari, an aviation engineer, was found shot to death inside his car in the city of Sfax near his home, Tunisian media reported.
Israeli officials have yet to react or comment on the report.
“The only entity that would benefit from the hit is the Zionist enemy,” Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, told a Tunisian radio station on Friday.
“The Mossad has a history of political assassinations.”
He continued: “The assassination hurts Tunisia along with the Arab people. The Palestinians could have benefited from Zawari’s knowledge.
The Mossad did not want an Arab expert with knowledge in this field to exist.”
Although the motive behind the killing remains unclear, Tunisian media and Hamas say Israeli skill and the benefit of eliminating a key Hamas weapons and drone expert point to Israel. Zawari also may have had other enemies, however, especially in volatile Tunisia.
According to Channel 10, the nationalities of potential suspects who have been detained include one from the Netherlands, one from Morocco and the rest from varying European countries.
A report from Hungary claimed that a Hungarian citizen posing as a journalist conducted an interview with the senior Hamas operative shortly before his murder. The Hungarian left Tunisia immediately after their meeting.
Zawari, who lived in Syria before the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 2011, is known for his contacts with Hamas and is credited with a number of innovations in drone technology.Yasser Okbi/Maariv contributed to this report.