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Israel In Firestorm as Fingers Point to Mossad In Dubai Murder

Luis Ramirez | Jerusalem 19 February 2010

Israel's ambassador to Britain has been asked to explain how some members of a hit squad that killed a Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel last month were carrying British passports. Authorities in Dubai have said they are almost certain that Israel's spy agency, Mossad, carried out the murder. The case touched off an international firestorm this week as several Israeli residents, whose names appear on the fraudulent passports, came forward and said their identities were stolen.

This video from a security camera has sent shockwaves around the world. It shows men in tennis outfits following Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh into his hotel room, where he was killed shortly afterwards. The men are then seen leaving the hotel.

On Thursday, Britain asked Israel's Ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, to explain how some of the operatives were carrying fraudulent British passports. "I was unable to add additional information to Sir Peter Ricketts' request. And concerning your questions about the meeting itself," Prosor said. "As you know, it is not the usual way to talk about what happens inside those meetings."

Police in Dubai now say they are almost 100 percent sure that Mossad was behind the killing. Officials in the Emirate have identified 11 people who they say traveled to Dubai on European passports, took part in the operation and then slipped out of the country.

The faces of the 11 have been plastered on newspapers, and several Israeli residents whose names appeared on the list told the media their identities had been stolen. Paul John Keeley says he was shocked and now lives in fear that he may be mistaken for one of the killers. "I am angry. How could this happen to me. Why me?" he asked.

Keeley, who lives in an Israeli rural community, worries about visiting his parents in Europe because someone is using his name.

Israeli officials have not confirmed or denied responsibility for the killing.

Nevertheless, some Israeli commentators have called for the resignation of the head of Mossad.

On the streets, reactions are mixed, with some Israelis saying the government should target Hamas by any means necessary, while others worry about ordinary citizens being unknowingly involved in covert operations.

"To take regular people inside the situation, it's not good," one man said.

An Israeli couple had these comments:
Woman: "I think it's not right to take identities from people from your own country, but I don't think we should be concerned about it.
Man: Yeah, it's not something to be concerned about.
Reporter: Why not be concerned?
Woman: "Because it's actually for the good of our country."

Mabhouh was a founder of the military wing of Hamas. He was key, Israel says, in obtaining weapons for Hamas attacks on Israelis. The group's charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

If confirmed, this would be one of the few times a Mossad operation has received this much publicity.

Some members of Hamas are blaming Israel for Mabhouh's death. Those attending a rally in Gaza this week called for revenge. More rallies are planned in the coming days.

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