Israelis ponder Mossad ethics, role in Dubai Hamas assassination
Citizens of Israel are of two minds over allegations that Mossad, which have not been confirmed, was behind the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. On the one hand, they support pursuing Israel's enemies abroad. On the other, they worry about possible identity theft.
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International speculation has focused on the Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service which has carried out a number of assassinations abroad in the past, though the Israeli government has refused to confirm or deny these rumors.
On the one hand, many Israelis maintain a kind of pride in the Mossad and its reputation for stealthily pursuing enemies of the Jewish state in far-flung places. On the other, the fact that at least six of the 11 alleged assassins were traveling under identities apparently stolen from Israeli citizens – all of those six were holders of UK passports who immigrated here – has many questioning the ethics of the organization.
"There are plenty of people who would have been willing to cooperate with that kind of a mission. So if they're using these people's identities unbeknownst to them, then it's very problematic," says Jean-Marc Liling, a Swiss-French human rights lawyer who now lives in Israel. "Using people's identities without their consent is really intolerable."
Israel is an immigrant society, and most people who move here from Western countries maintain their original nationalities and passports. Given that, many here think it's unfair for the state to have endangered those citizens' freedom of travel – landing them on Interpol's "highest-level alert" list for alleged criminals. Moreover, notes Liling, there's concern here that the affair could hurt relations with Britain and other friendly countries.
The 11 assassins carried six British Passports, three Irish, and one each from Germany and France. So far, only the names used on the British passports -- which the UK say were forgeries -- have turned up to match the names of Israeli citizens.
"We can't go burning our bridges with every country over events like this," says Liling. "Even the more liberal, human rights-oriented sectors of Israeli society understand the need for these operations, and I think most of our allies in the world would prefer this to an all-out operation against Hamas in Gaza. But there will be criticism among Israelis, even those that do not automatically disapprove of such actions, that if you are going to carry out such operations, you should not take risks that hold high chances of you screwing up."