Hamas Movement revealed, in a press conference held Thursday in Beirut, the details of al-Qassam commander Mohamed al-Zouari’s assassination in Tunisia.
Member of the group’s political bureau Mohamed Nazzal said that the Israeli Mossad was behind the killing of al-Zouari in Sfax, Tunisia last December.
Nazzal said the accusation was the result of Hamas’s own investigation in al-Zouari’s assassination.
“Mossad is officially accused of being behind the assassination, which is not only a terrorist act, but a violation of state sovereignty,” he said.
Nazzal also said that it is within their “responsibility to coordinate with Tunisian authorities” on matters relating to the country’s national security “to confront the Zionist enemy”.
“Tunisia has information regarding the investigation as well, and its national interest and stability is highly important to us,” Nazzal said.
“Because the Zionists may repeat their doings once again, and as such we are responsible for Tunisia’s security – and we would be for any other Arab state.”
The Hamas official said that three teams have participated in the operation. “The preparations (for the assassination) lasted a year and a half,” he added.
He affirmed that the Mossad had received help from other security services, but he did not elaborate on who they were.
The assassination went through three stages and involved 12 individuals, he added.
According to the investigation report, the two men who carried out the assassination had Bosnian passports.
Two journalists, who used their alleged work as a way to get close to al-Zouari and scope out his neighborhood, claimed to have Bosnian citizenship. The two assassins were using Bosnian passports, Nazzal said.
One of the individuals, who went by the name of Chris Smith, had enrolled in the National Engineering School of Tunis – the same university where al-Zouari was studying for his postgraduate degree.
The report said that Smith, who had told the university he wanted to observe drone innovation, had offered al-Zouari a project, allegedly backed by the European Union, to work on.
However, al-Zouari declined after becoming suspicious of him.
The second phase was carried out by two girls who monitored al-Zouari’s house for several times.
The logistical preparations in Tunisia took about four months and therefore two men rented apartments and cars in the country, Nazzal pointed out.
The report states that on the day of the assassination, the two followed al-Zouari to a coffee shop near his home. They sat at the table next to him. The two then left the coffee shop while three other teams surveilled al-Zouari’s home.
The assassination took place when al-Zouari returned to his home during rush hour. After he turned off his car’s engine, the Israeli agents pulled up next to his car and shot him several times. The guns they used were equipped with special silencers.
Nazzal said that Hamas has a legal body and that it will present their investigative report to its team in order to study possible options to proceed with the findings.
“I assure you that the legal team will examine this,” he said. “We will look into the options of bringing forward lawsuits against Israel.”
Al-Zouari, 49, was killed at the wheel of his car outside his house in Sfax on December 15 last year.
The engineer and drone expert had worked with Hamas’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades.
Following the assassination, Hamas formed an investigation panel headed by Nazzal.