Hamas-linked scientist Dr. Fadi Muhammad al-Batsh was killed as part of a Mossad campaign to end a program in which the terrorist group sent scientists and engineers overseas to learn how to better fight Israel, Middle Eastern intelligence officials suggested in a The New York Times report on Thursday.Batsh had been sent to Malaysia, where he was gunned down on April 21, to study and acquire weapons systems and drones for Hamas, which runs the coastal enclave of Gaza, as the Mossad suspects Hamas has an increased interest in advancing its unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles for attacks against Israel, the intelligence officials claim. Malaysian police said Batsh's two suspected killers were “most likely born in the Middle East or in the West,” without specifying a country, though Batsh's family blames the Mossad for the killing.
Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh accused the Mossad of responsibility for the assassination and called 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-Batsh, a researcher in energy sciences,” he told Al-Mayadeen news network on Saturday.“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 a Hamas statement released after the killing. “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.”Similarly, In December 2016, Muhammad al-Zawari, an aeronautical engineer who manufactured drones for Hamas, was gunned down in Sfax, Tunisia, a killing also put at the feet of the Mossad. Reports from Tunis indicated that he also designed an unmanned naval vessel that could attack other sea vessels from under the water. After the hit, there was no evidence to identify the assassins, presumed by many to be Mossad agents, and all that was found were cell phones, silencers and a rental car, reportedly purchased by third-parties duped into helping the Mossad. In Malaysia, authorities said the motorcycle used in Batsh's killing had not been stolen, the Times reported. Hamas has dispatched a senior delegation to meet with Malaysian officials and follow up on the investigation into the shooting.Israel has repeatedly distanced itself from suspected Mossad killings, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested internal Palestinian disputes sealed Batsh's fate.His body arrived, via Egypt, in Gaza for burial on Wednesday, despite the protests of Israeli officials, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett said the remains must not be returned until the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are returned to Israel for proper burial.Yonah Jeremy Bob and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.