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


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.