Tunisia announced on Tuesday that it arrested two suspects over the 2016 assassination of Hamas drone expert Mohammed al-Zoari.
It identified the two men as Bosnian nationals Albert Sarak and Alain Kamedi, the Walla news site reported.
The December 15, 2016, assassination of al-Zoari was widely blamed on Israel’s Mossad, including by the Hamas terror group, which acknowledged after the killing that Zoari was a central figure in its weapons development apparatus and called him a pioneer in developing its unmanned drones.
Tunisia’s Interior Ministry said this week the two suspects entered Tunisia via a sea port on December 8, 2016, a week before the killing. The men allegedly claimed to be representatives of tour companies, and toured the Djerba area and the south of the country.
Officials allege that the two planned the killing for 18 months, and had used Tunisian citizens in the operation.
The latest claims follow Tunisian authorities’ announcement in May that they had arrested a suspect in the assassination, whom Arab media outlets say was nabbed in Croatia on March 13.
It’s not clear what the latest announcement means for the claim, voiced by numerous Arab outlets, that Israel was behind the killing. There was no immediate report of a connection between the Bosnian suspects and Israeli espionage bodies.
Shortly after the assassination, a senior Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, told a Tunisian radio station that “the Zionist enemy” was the only party likely to benefit from the assassination of Zoari, and that Mossad had a long history of killing experts with capability to develop military technology, especially those related to developing UAVs.
Israel does not want such capabilities to reach Palestinian organizations in Gaza, Masri said.
Hamas has also blamed Israel for the killing of its rocket scientist Fadi al-Batsh, 35, in Malaysia in April.
Zoari, an aviation scientist and engineer with longstanding links to Hamas, was shot dead at point-blank range on December 15, 2016, in the Tunisian city of Sfax.
Zoari was said to have helped Hamas develop unmanned drones.
He was shot multiple times — some reports said as many as 20 bullets were fired at him — while sitting in his car near his home.
A senior Tunisian journalist said at the time that the Mossad had been tracking Zoari for quite some time, and was responsible for his assassination.
Israel’s Channel 2 news said Zoari was reported to have received death threats because of his Palestinian terror links. However, Channel 2 also quoted Tunisian security officials as saying that the investigation of the death did not immediately suggest an assassination by a foreign intelligence agency.
There was no official Israeli response to the reports.