Hamas blames Israel for assassination of drone chief

Palestinian group says Zawari was part of its military wing for 10 years and vowed revenge against "the Zionist enemy".

    Hamas' Qassam Brigades published this poster on its Twitter page, calling Zawari a 'Hamas pilot' [Twitter]
    Hamas' Qassam Brigades published this poster on its Twitter page, calling Zawari a 'Hamas pilot' [Twitter]

    Hamas blamed Israel for the killing of its "commander" Mohammed al-Zawari, an aviation engineer who worked on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and vowed to take revenge.

    Zawari, 49, had been in Tunisia only a few days when he was shot dead outside his home by multiple gunshots while in his car near Sfax, 270km southeast of Tunis, on Thursday.

    Television footage aired on local media showed a black Volkswagen with its windows shot out.

    Four rental cars were used in the killing and two handguns and suppressors were seized, Tunisia's interior ministry said.

    A judicial spokesman from Sfax, Mourad Tourki, told Tunisian radio Shems FM that eight Tunisian nationals had been arrested in connection with the killing.

    A Hamas poster of Mohammed al-Zawari 

    One of the suspects is a Tunisian journalist based in Hungary, arrested along with a cameraman. Two other suspects, one of them a Belgian of Moroccan origin, are still at large, Tourki said.

    Authorities have not commented on who is suspected of being behind the murder.

    Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, confirmed that Zawari had been a member of its military wing for the past 10 years, and spearheaded its drone programme. 

    A statement said Zawari's work "contributed to the victories" by Hamas during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.   

    The group accused Israel of killing the aviation engineer through its network of spies.

    "The assassination of the commander Mohammed al-Zawari in Tunisia is a reminder for all Arab and Muslim nations that the Zionist enemy and its agents are roaming free in the region, playing their dirty roles, and it is time for this cowardly treacherous hand to be cut,"  Hamas' Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

    It published a poster on Twitter showing Zawari with an unmanned drone. The poster bore the logo of Hamas' armed wing and referred to Zawari as a commander.

    "The assassination is an aggression against the group and the enemy should know that the blood of this great commander will not be wasted," it said.

    Israeli Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli Channel One: "I hope this issue will not be ascribed to us, that it is not connected to us and that none of those people arrested are our allies."

    Tunisia's Islamist Ennahdha movement has called for an investigation into the killing, which it said posed a threat to the country's stability.

    Israeli forces were responsible for the 1988 killing of senior Palestinian commander Abu Jihad, whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, at his home in Tunis, Tunisia.

    Wazir was the deputy of then Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat.

    Mossad is also believed to have been behind the 2010 murder of top Hamas commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a Dubai hotel.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.