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Tunisia seeking Swiss, Belgian nationals in killing of Hamas drone expert

Parliament plans special session to discuss assassination of Hamas-affiliated Mohammed Al-Zoari, for which Gaza’s terror rulers blame Israel

Mohammed Al-Zoari, a Tunisian scientist with ties to Hamas killed near his home in the Tunisian city of Sfax on Thursday, December 15, 2016. (Screen capture Channel 10)
Mohammed Al-Zoari, a Tunisian scientist with ties to Hamas killed near his home in the Tunisian city of Sfax on Thursday, December 15, 2016. (Screen capture Channel 10)

Tunisian officials are searching for two suspects of Belgian and Swiss nationalities as they investigate the assassination of an engineer with ties to Hamas, attributed by the terror group to Israel.

The Tunisian deputy prosecutor general Mourad Turki said the portrait of a “Belgian national of Maghrebian origin” had been transmitted to Interpol. Another suspect “of Swiss nationality” was also wanted.

The killing of Mohamed Al-Zoari, who was shot dead on Thursday in the city of Sfax, continued to stir Tunisia on Monday, with parliament planning a crisis meeting, as well as several calls for demonstrations throughout the country.

Zoari, a 49-year-old engineer, was killed at the wheel of his car outside his house in Sfax on Thursday. He was buried on Saturday.

Hamas told AFP on Saturday that Zoari was a drone expert and was killed by “Zionist treachery,” referring to Israel.

After a morning meeting with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Interior Minister Hedi Majdoub was due to speak later Monday at a press conference with his justice counterpart Ghazi Jribi.

Parliament President Mohammed Ennaceur said that a “plenary session” would be organized in the days to come to debate the case.

Calls for demonstrations have been launched by political parties. The Order of Tunisian engineers has called for a “day of wrath” on Thursday, and has urged it members to wear black armbands in honor of Zoari.

The Tunisian government on Sunday said that foreigners were behind Zoari’s death.

“The investigations concerning the assassination of Tunisian citizen Mohamed Al-Zoari and the latest findings have proven that foreign elements were involved,” the government said on its Facebook page.

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, hold a banner bearing a portrait of one of their leaders, Mohamed Zoari, who was killed in Tunisia, during a ceremony in his memory on December 18, 2016, in Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, hold a banner bearing a portrait of one of their leaders, Mohamed Zoari, who was killed in Tunisia, during a ceremony in his memory on December 18, 2016, in Gaza City.
(AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

It did not give further details, but said it was “determined to protect all Tunisian citizens and to pursue those guilty of carrying out assassination inside and outside” the country.

Israel has made no comment about the Hamas accusation.

Turki has said that eight suspects have been arrested in connection with Zoari’s death and that all of them are Tunisian citizens.

Hamas said Zoari had been a member of its military wing for the past 10 years. It published a poster showing Zoari with an unmanned drone in what appeared to be a training session. The poster bore the logo of Hamas’s military wing and referred to Zoari as a commander.

Tunisian newspapers rushed Friday to blame Mossad for the killing.

An associate of Zoari, Karim Abed a-Salam, told Tunisia’s Channel 9 TV that Zoari had visited the Gaza Strip several times in recent years, entering through the tunnels that run under the Gaza-Egypt border. He said that Zoari served as a liaison between Hamas and the Iranian and Syrian governments.

The Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Saturday that Zoari had also assisted Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the development of drone technology.

The Mossad has been accused in the past of eliminating those who supply Palestinian and Lebanese terror groups with advanced technology, as well as having assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists.

In Dubai, in 2010, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a key Hamas missile purchaser and importer, was assassinated in his hotel room in a killing widely attributed to Mossad.

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