Hamas again claims Mossad killed drone mastermind

Hamas is again blaming Israel for the assassination of an aviation engineer responsible for the terror group’s drone program.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

An aviation engineer working for the Hamas terror organization who was assassinated in Tunisia last December was killed by an Israel hit team using Bosnian passports, Hamas announced Thursday.

In a press conference held in Beirut, Mouhamad Nazal, a member of Hamas’ Politburo, said that Hamas engineer Mohammed Al-Zawari was shot and killed by a Mossad team which was assisted by European nationals.

Assassins shot Mohammed Al-Zawari, 49, multiple times at point-blank when he was sitting in his car near his home in Sfax, southeast of Tunis.

A truck parked near the home blocked the way to his car. Two assailants using weapons equipped with silencers rushed forward and shot him at close range, riddling him with some 20 bullets as he sat in his car.

Tunisian authorities arrested eight nationals on allegations of involvement in the shooting. Four rental cars were used in the killing and two handguns and suppressors were seized during the investigation.

One of the suspects is a Tunisian journalist based in Hungary, who was arrested along with a cameraman.

Following a thorough investigation, Hamas concluded that the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, was behind the operation.

Nazal explained that the operation consisted of three phases: the first was the collecting of intelligence, carried out by a Hungarian national a year and a half prior to the shooting; the second phase was getting close to Zawari through journalists who used fake IDs, and the last stage was the actual assassination.

Rehashing Old Accusations

Hamas blamed the Mossad for the shooting right after it was exposed.

A statement by Hamas last December said Zawari’s work “contributed to the victories” by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

“The assassination of the commander Mohammed al-Zawari in Tunisia is a reminder to 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’ Ez-Addin al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

His “blood will not be spilled in vain,” Hamas threatened.

There was no official Israeli response.

At the time of the assassination, Israeli analysts were conflicted as to whether the Mossad was in fact behind the hit. Some analysts said that Zawari could pose a threat at some point, while others noted that Hamas’ drone program was of no real threat and that Israel would not risk assets in a foreign country to thwart a currently minor, albeit potentially growing threat.

Zawari was a member of Hamas’ military wing and a pioneer in its drone program. He has also worked for the Hezbollah terror in the past and developed unmanned aircraft for them. In recent years, he moved between Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Lebanon.

Hamas has been working for over a decade to develop aircraft that could be used for surveillance or attack missions. Its drone program is considered to be in the primitive stages and does not pose a real threat to Israel’s security at this time.