Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed (Photo: Reuters)
Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called on Sunday an emergency cabinet meeting, following the release of a statement from Hamas' military wing Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades that accused Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of murdering Tunisian aviation engineer Mohamed Zouari.
Zouari, 49, was shot last Thursday evening in his car outside his home in Sfax, on Tunisia's eastern coast.
Hamas' military wing Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said that Zouari had been a member of the Palestinian group for 10 years, responsible for supervising its “Ababil” drone program.
Tunisian officials and judicial bodies investigating Zouari's death have not commented on the accusation.
"Firing accusations and charges against any party would be premature," unnamed government sources said.
Some Tunisian media outlets have reported the accusation as fact, sparking anti-Israeli anger across the country.
Al-shourouk newspaper, one of the most popular Tunisian newspapers, ran a headline on Sunday titled "Mossad assassinates Zouari." Al-Maghreb newspaper reported Mossad's potential involvement but said that investigations are ongoing.
Tunisian police have arrested eight suspects including one woman in connection with the assassination, and are searching for another Moroccan-Belgian suspect.
Zouari was arrested in 1991 on suspicion of involvement with Islamic movements in Tunisia. He was pardoned months later, but was exiled from the country, returning only after the 2011 revolution that ousted ex-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Media reports said Zouari recently travelled to Syria and Turkey on several occasions, and entered the Gaza Strip through illegal underground tunnels.