ISRAEL (OBSERVATORY) – A Palestinian scientist who was shot dead in Malaysia was a missile expert and was not a saint, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday, but denied suggestions to the Palestinian militant group Hamas that the Mossad had assassinated him.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Majlan said two men on a motorcycle fired 10 bullets at Palestinian engineering lecturer Fadi al-Batsh on Saturday and immediately killed him.
Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, said one of its members was assassinated in Malaysia. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, said that the Israeli Mossad was behind previous attempts to assassinate Palestinian scientists and that the killing of al-Batsh comes in this context.
But Lieberman said the killing was likely to have been killed in an internal Palestinian conflict.
“We heard the news in the news,” he told Israel Radio. Terrorist organizations blame every assassination on Israel – we are used to it.”
“The man was not a saint and he was not working to improve the infrastructure in Gaza – he was working on developing the accuracy of the missiles … We see a constant settling of accounts among different factions in terrorist organizations, and I think that is what happened in this case.”
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Zahid Hamidi said the two suspects had fled the site and were believed to be European and linked to a foreign intelligence service, the official Malaysian News Agency (BERNAMA) quoted Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Zahid Hamidi as saying.
Zahid said al-Batsh was active in pro-Palestinian NGOs and described him as an expert in electrical engineering and rocket-making.
The agency quoted Zahid as saying that he could be seen as a “foe of a state hostile to the Palestinians.”
Malaysian police chief Mohammed Fawzi bin Harun said on Sunday Malaysian authorities had not arrested anyone.
He was a lecturer at the University of Kuala Lumpur, which he said was a specialist in electrical engineering.
Jamal al-Batash, the dead man’s uncle, told Reuters from Gaza that he believed what happened was the work of the Israeli Mossad. He added that Israel knows that the Palestinian territories will be freed by scientists.
During the Gaza war of 2014, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, which launched devastating attacks on the Gaza Strip. But most of the rockets were intercepted by an Israeli anti-missile system.
In the past few weeks, tension has mounted on the Gaza-Israel border after Palestinians staged protests to demand the right of return to their homes, now in Israel.
Israel used live ammunition and killed at least 35 Palestinians, sparking international criticism. Israel says it protects its borders and takes these measures only when protesters come close to the border fence.