The killing of 35-year-old Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur has taken the wraps off a covert programme of targeted killings of Palestinians deemed a threat by Israel.

Al-Batsh studied electrical engineering in Gaza before going on to earn a PhD in the same subject in Malaysia.

He specialised in power systems and energy saving and had published a number scientific papers on the subject.

Hamas said al-Batsh was an important member of the group and accused Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency of being behind Saturday’s incident.

According to the Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, who is one of the foremost experts on Israeli intelligence and author of the book Rise and Kill First, the murder of al-Batsh bears all the hallmarks of a Mossad operation.