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Hamas warns Israel of retaliation if members assassinated

Des hommes en uniforme des Brigades Ezzedine al-Qassam, l'aile militaire du Hamas, le 30 juin 2014 à Deir al-Balah, dans la bande de Gaza
Said Khatib (AFP/Archives)
message comes after Israel was accused in the death of a Hamas-linked engineer living in Tunisia

Sources within the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Gaza based Hamas militant group on Sunday issued a warning saying that if Israel continues to assassinate its members, Hamas will in turn assassinate agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency who are stationed abroad.

The message comes after Israel was accused in the death of a Hamas-linked engineer living in Tunisia.

Tunisian media outlets on Friday widely quoted a local journalist who claimed that the recent murder of Mohammed al-Zoari was the handiwork of the Mossad.

The reported shooting of the aviation scientist on Thursday in the north African country drew the Israeli agency's attention over prior assistance to Hamas with development of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to reports in the Tunisian media.

An official from the al-Qassam Brigades reportedly confirmed on Saturday to Al-Jazeera that al-Zoari was a member of the Palestinian terror group's military wing.

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.

Hamas, the hard-line Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and endorses the killing of Israeli civilians.

The summer of 2014 saw Israel and Hamas wage the third conflict in Gaza since 2008.

Hamas Spokesman Mushir al-Masri told a Tunisian radio station that "only Israel benefits from this targeted killing" and threatened that if it is true that "the Zionist entity stands behind al-Zoari's killing, Hamas will not hesitate to respond."

Meanwhile, an influential Islamist party in Tunisia warned on Friday that al-Zoari's murder endangered the country's stability.

The killing "poses a threat to the security of Tunisians and the stability of Tunisia", it said in a statement.

The interior ministry said at least five suspects have been detained in Sfax, Tunis and Djerba, and four vehicles seized along with two guns equipped with silencers.

Private radio station Mosaique FM reported that Zaouari's body was riddled with 20 bullets, in what was believed to be a common law crime although the authorities had not ruled out terrorism.

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