Tags: Israel | silence | Dubai | Hamas

Israel Keeps Silent on Dubai Murder Probe

Wednesday, 03 March 2010 10:09 AM

DUBAI - Israeli officials remained doggedly silent on Wednesday in the wake of a Dubai police decision to seek the arrest of the Israeli prime minister and the head of its spy agency over the murder of a top Hamas militant in the Gulf emirate.

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office nor the foreign ministry would comment on Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan's order for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

Khalfan says the hit on Mahmud al-Mabhuh was carried out by Mossad agents using European and Australian passports.

Israel has not confirmed or denied the accusations, although opposition leader Tzipi Livni has praised the killing as "good news for those fighting terrorism."

The affair has, however, caused a diplomatic storm, with the countries whose passports were allegedly used protesting to Israeli envoys and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The Dubai police say 12 people linked to the hit used British passports, three had French travel documents, six carried Irish passports and one used a German identity.

The British embassy in Tel Aviv said that visiting detectives of the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency had begun questioning dual nationals whose names appeared on passports Dubai said were used in the January killing.

Embassy spokesman Rafi Shamir told AFP that detectives met the first of "about 10" subjects on Monday and were continuing to carry out interviews during the week.

He gave no further details.

Three Australian passports were also used in the operation, Dubai says, and Australia said Tuesday it was sending detectives to interview the people named, all Israeli residents.

Australia's embassy in Israel declined to comment on the inquiry.

Israeli media have said that Australia has warned Israel in the past not to use its nationals' identities for clandestine operations.

In 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel after two Israelis, believed to be Mossad agents, were arrested for attempting to fraudulently obtain a New Zealand passport.

Dubai police believe all the suspects in Mabhuh's murder are now in Israel.

Most of the people named in connection with the killing were shocked to find themselves linked to it and appear to have been unwitting victims of identity theft.

Mabhuh, a founder of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement's military wing, was found dead in a room of the luxurious Al Bustan Rotana hotel near Dubai airport on January 20.

Dubai police have identified 26 suspects from the hit squad murder they say bore the hallmarks of the Mossad. The Hamas man had been drugged and then suffocated.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, 03 March 2010 10:09 AM
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