Hamas mourns Tunisian drone engineer murdered 'by Israeli Mossad'
In a statement released on Saturday, the Qassam Brigades offered its condolences to Arabs, Muslims and free peoples everywhere for the death of Mohammed al-Zoari, "the pilot commander" as he was described in the statement.
The Qassam Brigades vowed his blood would not have been spilled in vain.
Zoari, an aviation scientist described by media as an Islamist-leaning civil activist, was shot dead at point-blank range on Thursday in the south Tunisian city of Sfax.
He was reportedly shot multiple times while he sat in his car outside his home. Eight bullets were found in his body, and up to twenty shell casings were located in the crime scene, according to Tunisian security authorities.
Some Arab media have blamed Israel's Mossad agency due to the victim's ties to the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. Tunisian informed sources contacted by The New Arab gave some credence to the allegations, based on Zoari's background.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.
|According to Arab press reports, Israel's Mossad agency is behind the assassination, linked to the victim's ties to the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement|
While Tunisian authorities downplayed the reports, several of the suspects arrested appear to be foreigners, according to security sources that spoke to The New Arab.
According to Israel's Channel 2, Zoari was known for his ties with Hamas and was credited with helping the group develop unmanned aerial vehicles. Channel 2 showed what appears to be footage of him working on small drones.
Tunisian sources close to Hamas corroborated the Israeli connection.
The sources told The New Arab Zoari's ties to Hamas date back to the reign of deposed President Zine El Abedidine Ben Ali, who led a strict crackdown on Islamists.
Zoari left Tunisia and resided in Libya, Sudan and Syria for years before returning after the 2011 revolution. According to reports, he was killed shortly after returning from a recent visit to Lebanon.
Mushir Masri, one of Hamas's leaders in the Gaza Strip, gave his condolences to Zawahri's family during an interview on Tunisian radio later on Friday. Masri said only Israel stood to gain from his assassination.