GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – The Hamas movement’s military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Saturday evening released a statement confirming that the Tunisian aviation engineer Muhammad
al-Zouari who was allegedly assassinated on Thursday in Tunisia was one its leaders and manufactured drones for the movement.
The statement described al-Zouari, 45, as a “martyr of Palestine, Tunisia, and the Arab and Islamic nations,” adding that the slain official, who is believed to have been assassinated by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, was a leader of Hamas’ military wing.
Hamas directly accused Israel of the assassination, saying that “the coward Zionist hands assassinated the al-Qassam Brigades leader,” and called al-Zouari the “pioneer of the Arab Spring and the sponsor of the Palestinian revolution and resistance.” The statement highlighted that the Ababil drones, the Iranian-developed drone reportedly manufactured by al-Zouari, played a major role in the resistance during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Hamas’ statement, al-Zouari had joined Hamas’ military wing ten years ago following the “examples set” by several Arab and Muslim fighters who battled against the “Zionist enemy,” and defended Palestine. "The enemy must know that the blood of the martyr and leader Muhammad al-Zouari won't be spilled in vain,” the statement warned, highlighting that the assassination was believed to be an assault on the Palestinian resistance and the al-Qassam Brigades. The statement also went on to warn Arab and Islamic countries of the activities of Israel’s Mossad, saying that “the assassination of al-Zouari rings an alarm bell for the Arab and Muslim nations.”
Hamas warned the rest of the nations that the “Zionist enemy and its collaborators are messing with the region's countries and playing dirty games, and it's time this cowardly and deceitful hand be cut."
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Tunisian journalist Burhan Basis said that the Mossad had carried out the assassination and al-Zouari work on drones for the Hamas movement led to Israeli intelligence targeting the official.
Al-Zouari was reportedly "shot at close range with six bullets, three to his head, while in his car," Haaretz said, adding that reports indicated that the assassin was "highly professional and skilled, and didn't leave a trace."
Al-Zouari was also a former Tunisair pilot, according to Haaretz, and worked with Tunisia’s civil aviation in assisting the training of young people on how to operate drones.