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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Indeed, because of this unfolding of what had, until a few days ago, seemed like a "success," some Israelis said they didn't believe their own Mossad was responsible. News on Thursday of the arrests of two Palestinians in Jordan in connection with the Jan. 20 assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, an alleged Hamas arms procurer, fueled suspicions that key aspects of the story were yet unknown.Skip to next paragraph
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"It seems too sloppy to be our guys," says Yossi Levy, a former policeman, as he sat having a midday coffee with friends.
Shmuel Karmeli, a retiree who used to work for the juvenile court system, says Israelis are still trying to weigh what's right.
"We feel he [Mabhouh] had it coming to him: he killed Israeli soldiers," says Mr. Karmeli. "But we're weighing that against the damage that was done to individual Israelis, who will perhaps be endangered by this development. Perhaps it'll never be safe for them to travel again."
Some in Israel also questioned whether there should be a flat-out assumption that these were cases of identity theft. Yossi Melman, a writer on intelligence affairs for the liberal newspaper Haaretz, says that it's possible the people in question had agreed at some point to help the Mossad, though were not informed of the specific ways in which they – or simply their names - would be "drafted."
"What would you expect people to say to the media? 'I volunteered for this and gave them my passport?' If you look carefully at their reactions, most of them are taking it very lightly, and not going through the roof," Mr. Melman says. Attempts to reach several the people in question were unsuccessful; most were not answering their phones over the past two days.
Of course, when it comes to the cloak-and-dagger dynamics of spy work, it's hard to sift fact from fiction. What can be said in no uncertain terms is that Israelis are gripped by the saga.
"Whatever it is, it's an amazing story and I can't get enough of it," says a psychologist, who asked for anonymity. Why? She says she might want to work for the Mossad some day. Though it used to be a hush-hush agency which didn't have an address – don’t call us, we'll call you – things have changed in the Information Age. The agency now maintains a website through which it solicits would-be employees, just like the CIA and the MI5.
"Through this affair, we finally get some insight into how they work, how they sent each person in from different countries, which is just fascinating," she says. "I saw this video of them coming out of the elevator and thought, that guy with the big belly is one of them? It's not exactly how you imagine a Mossad agent."