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Palestinian found dead in Sweden, as rumors circulate of Mossad involvement

Aug. 23, 2017 5:16 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 23, 2017 8:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After a Palestinian man was found shot dead in the Swedish town of Limmared on Saturday, unconfirmed reports have emerged that the killing was an assassination carried about by Israeli intelligence, while Israeli media has claimed the slain man had ties to Hamas.

Muhammad Tahsin al-Buzm, a former resident of the besieged Gaza Strip in his 20s, was reportedly shot in the head and neck at close range by unidentified assailants inside his apartment.

Head of the al-Buzm tribe, or extended family, Abu al-Sayyid told Ma'an on Sunday that the victim was from Gaza City's al-Nasr neighborhood, and departed the Gaza Strip for Sweden with his wife in 2008 following the Israeli military offensive Operation Cast Lead, during which his brother was killed.

Abu al-Sayyid said that as of Sunday the family had yet to receive sufficient details about the circumstances of Muhammad's killing. The only thing the family was aware of, he said, is that Muhammad had been living for a long time in the same building where he was killed, and that his suspected killer had been living in the area for the past week.

A statement released by Swedish police on Sunday, cited in Israeli media only, said that “reports said several people wearing masks entered the apartment through a balcony and shot the man inside. They disappeared after the shooting as quickly as they arrived.”

Palestinian foreign ministry sources cited by Haaretz said its embassy in Sweden was following the police investigation and awaiting further news.

A statement purportedly released by the Fatah movement in Gaza on Saturday was cited by a number of Israeli and Palestinian news cites, accusing Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, of assassinating al-Buzm.

A statement on Fatah’s official Facebook account only briefly reported that he had been “murdered.”

The man’s father Tahsin claimed the incident was the result of a domestic dispute with a Jewish neighbor, Israeli news daily Haaretz reported. Tahsin told Haaretz his son worked in marketing and was not politically active.

The father said he believed a neighbor was responsible for the murder because Muhammed often complained about alcohol and drug use and excessive noise coming from the neighbor. “It could be that an argument developed that ended in murder, or that it was a murder in a racist context because they identified him as a Palestinian Arab and a Muslim,” the father told Haaretz.

While some Israeli and Palestinian media sites claimed the man was a former prisoner of Israel, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs were quoted in other reports as saying they had yet to confirm records that al-Buzm was a prisoner.

Abu Sayyid, the head of the al-Buzm tribe in Gaza, told Ma’an that Muhammad had never been a prisoner in Israel.

Head of the prisoners’ committee Issa Qaraqe was quoted by Haaretz as saying that initial information indicated the killing was a criminal case and also said the man was not a released prisoner.

Haaretz reported later on Wednesday that the al-Buzm family had ties to the Hamas movement -- the ruling party of the Gaza Strip and one of the most popular political parties among Palestinians, citing anonymous sources in the Gaza Strip, who also blamed Mossad for the killing.

Haaretz’s report identified al-Buzm’s father as Eyad and a current spokesman for Hamas' Homeland Security Office in Gaza. However, previous reports said the father’s name was Tahsin and that he worked as an Imam in Sweden.

Muhammed’s brother Hassan was a member of Hamas’ military wing the Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades and served as a bodyguard for former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the current head of the faction’s politburo, according to the report.

He was killed in an accident in 2009, according to Haaretz, which also cited a 2007 interview in which Hassan recounted his torture at the hands of Fatah security services.

Haaretz reported that Muhammad al-Buzm’s ties to Hamas “are evident from the Facebook profiles of his father and other family members; some also shared photographs of them holding the militant wing's flag.”

The Israeli news site did not cite evidence of personal, direct ties between Muhammad and Hamas.

Buzm joins a long list of Palestinians whose deaths have been attributed to assassinations by Mossad.

Other notable assassinations of Palestinians associated with Mossad include senior Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh, who was blown up in Damascus in 2008, and Hassan al-Laqqis, head of Hezbollah’s technological apparatus, who was killed in Beirut in 2013. Tunisian aviation engineer, Muhammad al-Zouari, was believed to have been assassinated by Israeli authorities last December.
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