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Hamas assassination: If Mossad did it, Israel wonders if it was worth it

The Hamas assassination in Dubai -- which police in the United Arab Emirates say they believe was organized by Israel's Mossad -- has Israelis wondering of the costs of targeting the Jewish state's enemies abroad outweigh the benefits.

By Josh MitnickCorrespondent / February 25, 2010

Hamas assassination: A Palestinian girl walks out of a shop with posters depicting Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh pasted on its windows in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Tel Aviv

The Hamas assassination in Dubai has led to growing accusations about the hit squad allegedly responsible for the death of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Those charges have recast what seemed like a clean getaway into a sloppy operation – with all fingers pointing to Israel's Mossad.

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The Dubai police yesterday added some 15 names to the list of suspects in the assassination, at least 10 of whom share the names of Austrailan, Irish, and English immigrants to Israel. While Israeli officials keep mum, and local analysts have avoided explicitly assigning responsibility to Mossad, there's a debate under way about whether the death of a man who Israel alleges was brokering arms deals for Hamas was worth the diplomatic and public relations fallout.

England, France, the European Union, and now Australia have told Israel they're worried about the apparent use of forged versions of their passports in the killing. On Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador there to discuss accusations that the perpetrators had used three falsified Australian passports. He told reporters that if Israeli involvement was confirmed, Australia ``would not regard that as an act of a friend."

"The understandings of whether an operation was successful or a failure are not clear as clear as they use to be," said Ronen Bergman, the author of The Secret War With Iran. ''The recent week has proven to us that it's not enough for the operation to be successful, the target to be dead, and the perpetrators to come home safely.''

Bergman speculated that the organization behind the assassination would have to suspend plans for future operations because it underestimated the ability of the Dubai police to unravel events surrounding the killing.

Accusations

The police in Dubai, the second-largest member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say they are "99 percent" certain that Mossad was involved and claim to have evidence that proves this, though that information has been held back from the public so far.

The European Union this week condemned the use of forged passports in the Dubai killing, but stopped short of accusing Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has refused to deny or confirm Israel's involvement, except to say that no conclusive evidence has emerged linking Israel to the assassination.

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