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Was Mossad behind Dubai assassination? Israel foreign minister isn't saying

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declined Wednesday to confirm or deny whether Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, was involved in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

By Ilene R. PrusherStaff writer / February 17, 2010

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attended a meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, in this Feb. 8 file photo.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters/File



Amid increasing heat over revelations that at least half of the names of the alleged assassins who killed a top Hamas operative in Dubai last month belong to immigrants to Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that there was no proof implicating the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency.

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But Mr. Lieberman did not explicitly deny that the assassination of alleged Hamas arms procurer, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was the work of the Mossad, saying in an interview with Israel's Army radio that Israel holds to a "policy of ambiguity" on discussing intelligence issues.

"I don't know why we take it for granted that it was Israel or Mossad that used those passports or the identities of that British citizen. It's just not correct. Why are we in such a hurry to take all kinds of tasks upon ourselves?" Lieberman said.

Hit squad video released

Dubai police released a video, photographs and names on Monday of what they said was an 11-member hit squad, all of whom were holders of European passports. After the pictures with the attached names were published on Tuesday, it became apparent that six of the names belong to immigrants to Israel who originally came from, and still hold citizenship ship in, Britain, Ireland, and France. Several of them located by the Israeli press were dumbfounded: their identities had been used, but the passport photos were of completely different people.

"I'm in shock – I just don't know how something like this could happen," Paul John Keely, one of the dual British-Israeli citizens whose name was used, told the newspaper Haaretz. Mr. Keely did not return calls for comment Wednesday. "My identity was stolen or forged," another one of the six, Melvyn Mildiner, told Ynet.
Six more people, thus far unnamed, are reported to have been involved in the assassination plot.

A new, colorful chapter?

Some in the Israeli media dealt with the colorful unfolding of this story as a new chapter in the Mossad's book of debacles. In 1997, the Mossad tried to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan by injecting poison in his ear. The attempt failed, the young Israeli-Jordanian diplomatic relationship was plunged into crisis, and Benjamin Netanyahu – prime minister then as now – worked to patch up the relationship by releasing Hamas' spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. (Yassin was later assassinated by Israel in 2004.)