Mohammed al-Zawari also reportedly worked for Hezbollah.
Mohammed Alzoari (also spelled Zawari and al-Zoari) was the chief engineer for Hamas’ drone program.
Earlier this week Alzoari was assassinated in Tunisia. There has been initial reports that it was a local dispute gone bad, but Hamas is pointing the finger at Israel. AP reports:
Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers say an aviation engineer who was shot dead in Tunisia this week was one of its members.
In a statement Saturday, Hamas says Mohammed Alzoari had been a member of its military wing for the past 10 years. Alzoari was found shot dead in his car in the city of Sfax on Thursday.
Hamas accused Israel of killing the engineer through its network of spies. It published a poster showing Alzoari with an unmanned drone in what appeared to be a training session. The poster bore the logo of Hamas’ armed wing and referred to Alzoari as a commander.
Hamas claims it has surveillance and attack drones. It said it considers Alzoari’s killing a targeted assassination and vowed to retaliate.
The Jerusalem Post further reports on Hamas’ reaction:
Hamas confirmed Saturday evening that Mohhamed Zawari, known to Israel’s security echelon as “The Engineer,” was a member of the organization’s military wing, Channel 2 news reported, citing a source who spoke with Al Jazeera.
The source also confirmed that Zawari was working on a project that was developing UAVs in Gaza.
Zawari, an aviation engineer and scientist, was shot three to seven times by unknown assailants in his car near his home.
The motive behind his shooting remains unclear.
On Friday a Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza strip Mushir al-Masri spoke to a Tunisian radio station, blaming Israel for the attack.
“The only agency that entity that would benefit from the hit is the Zionist enemy,” Masri stated.
“The Mossad has a history of political assassinations.”
“The assassination hurts Tunisia along with the Arab people, the Palestinians could have benefited from Zawari’s knowledge.” continued Masri.
“The Mossad did not want an Arab expert with knowledge in this field to exist.”
Zawari’s drone services also were used by Hezbollah, Haaretz reports:
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is identified with Lebanon’s Hezbollah Shi’ite militia, reported Saturday that Zawahri had worked with the military wing of Hamas since the 1990s, as well as with Hezbollah.
Sources in Hezbollah and Hamas’ military wing told the Lebanese daily that Zawahri’s association with the Hamas military wing began in the 1990s, following his departure from Tunisia, where he was reportedly being pursued by authorities at the time.
Zawahri, they said, worked in the Iz al-Din al-Qassam’s aviation unit and was responsible for the development and production of small drones and for training members of the Hamas military wing.
Zawahri had reportedly not been in hiding prior to his killing, and had not conducted himself as someone who thought his life was in danger, having even established a flying club in southern Tunisia.
Al-Akhbar stated explicitly that the Mossad was behind the killing, adding that Zawahri was killed after returning to Tunisia from a short visit to Lebanon and Turkey. The report said the Israeli espionage agency may have had ties to a woman who contacted Zawahri seeking an interview with him, claiming to be a Tunisian journalist living in Hungary. The woman reportedly disappeared a day before the killing.
Video by JerusalemOnline
But was it really Israel and not some local terrorist or criminal elements. A Tunisian journalist claims to know, Israel’s i24 News reports:
Tunisian media outlets on Friday widely quoted a local journalist who claimed that the recent murder of an engineer was the handiwork of Israeli security agency Mossad, according to Israeli news outlets.
Aviation scientist Mohammed al-Zoari, shot dead on Thursday in the north African country, drew the Israeli agency’s attention over prior assistance to the Hamas Palestinian terror group with development of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the reports.
The Tunisian journalist said al-Zoari left his home country for Syria in 1991 and then began cooperating with Hamas.
He further stated that the Mossad had been tracking al-Zoari for some time before he was killed on Thursday.
It’s certainly not my goal to provide Hamas with advice, but history shows it might be a good idea not to go by the nickname “The Engineer,” as lead Hamas bombmaker Yahya “The Engineer” Ayyashas learned in 1996:
At about 9 A.M. last Friday, a cellular phone rang in the plain cinder block dwelling where Yahya Ayyash was hiding in this warren of muddy lanes and ramshackle houses near the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.
As Mr. Ayyash, the Palestinian bomb-maker most wanted by Israel, held the phone to his ear, it exploded, shearing off part of his head and blowing off his hand. He died instantly.
Much greater detail on how the Ayyash assassination was carried out in this recent Jerusalem Post article.
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