Footage released by Dubai police
Photo: Reuters
Ambassador Yuval Rotem (Archives)

Australia warns Israel over Dubai assassination

FM Stephen Smith makes it 'crystal clear' to Israeli ambassador that if Israel sponsored use of Australian passports in Mabhouh killing 'Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend'

Australia warned Israel on Thursday that if it was involved in the alleged use of three fraudulent Australian passports in a Dubai assassination it would not be considered the "act of a friend," the foreign minister said.


Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador and demanded his cooperation in an investigation into the use of the passports in the killing of a senior Hamas figure.


Dubai authorities are investigating the use of at least 26 possibly fraudulent passports in connection with the Jan. 19 slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


"I made it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of that investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of the Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend," Smith told reporters.


Dubai's police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, has said he was nearly "100 percent" certain that Israel's Mossad secret service masterminded the killing. Hamas also has blamed Israel and vowed revenge.


Israeli officials have a policy of not commenting on allegations about any of its spy agency's activities.


'Central role in smuggling weapons'

Smith told Parliament that Dubai authorities confirmed to Australian officials Tuesday that they were investigating the use of three Australian passports in connection with the slaying, and that a preliminary investigation suggests they were fraudulently duplicated or altered.


"At this stage, Australian officials have no information to suggest that the three Australian passport holders were involved in any way, other than as victims of passport or identity fraud," Smith said.


Smith said he met with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah on Wednesday, and with Israel's Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Yuval Rotem, on Thursday morning, to reinforce Australia's full cooperation and the seriousness of the matter.


Dubai police have outlined a 19-hour operation to kill al-Mabhouh, including clockwork precision and disguises such as fake beards, wigs and tourist garb.


Israel says al-Mabhouh played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza militants.


The suspects using foreign passports are 12 Britons, six Irish, four French, three Australian and one German.


At least seven of the 26 passports share names with people living in Israel, reinforcing widespread suspicion about Mossad involvement and bringing sharp complaints from European ambassadors about how the expertly altered passports were obtained.


פרסום ראשון: 02.25.10, 08:21
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