Author Topic: Israel envoys called in over Hamas murder row  (Read 113 times)

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Israel envoys called in over Hamas murder row
« on: February 18, 2010, 04:53:52 AM »
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Israel envoys called in over Hamas murder row

By Alice Ritchie (AFP) – 3 hours ago

LONDON — Britain and Ireland called in Israel's envoys Thursday over the use of fake passports by the killers of a Hamas chief last month, as Dubai's police chief said he was sure Mossad was behind the murder.

Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, was called in for talks with a senior official at the Foreign Office, the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanded an "full investigation" into the passports row.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin was also to hold "frank" talks with Israel's envoy -- diplomatic code for potentially angry exchanges -- saying he regarded the use of false Irish passports as "an extremely serious incident".

"We will have a frank discussion with the ambassador," said Martin ahead of the meeting. "We are putting pretty direct questions and seeking assistance and clarification. We want to get answers as quickly as we possibly can.

"You can decode what I am saying. It is a very serious situation," he added, shortly before the talks between Israeli ambassador Zion Evrony and the head of Ireland's civil service.

Diplomatic tensions have mounted over the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhuh last month in a luxury Dubai hotel, ever since the emirate's police chief revealed that 11 European passport holders were allegedly involved. Austria is now investigating whether Austrian telephones were used to plan the killing. Related article: Mossad's forays abroad

No government has directly accused Israel but speculation about the killers has centred on Israel's Mossad intelligence services, which have used agents with fake passports for such operations in the past.

Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said he was 99 percent sure Mossad was behind the murder, The National newspaper reported on Thursday.

"Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of Mabhuh. It is 99 percent, if not 100 percent that Mossad is standing behind the murder," the Abu Dhabi-based English-language daily quoted Khalfan as saying.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday there was no evidence to suggest the Jewish state's spies were responsible.

"There is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad and not some other intelligence service or country up to some mischief," he said.

Dubai's police chief this week released the photos and names of the 11 European passport holders -- six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France -- accused of being behind the murder. Related article: EU passports of Hamas murder suspects not fake: Dubai police

All the countries except Germany have insisted the passports were faked.

Britain had abstained from talking about a possible Israeli link but on Wednesday said it wanted to clarify matters with Israel, calling in Prosor for talks with Peter Ricketts, the head of Britain's diplomatic service.

Amid growing demands for answers from MPs, the prime minister has promised a full investigation. "The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care," he said Wednesday.

"The evidence has got to be assembled about what has actually happened and how it happened and why it happened."

Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency will lead the probe in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates authorities, a government spokesman said.

In Austria meanwhile, authorities said they were investigating whether the killers used Austrian phone numbers or SIM cards to plan their hit. Related article: Stolen identities used by Hamas chief assassins

The Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card, a portable memory chip, holds personal identity information, cell phone number, phone book, text messages and other data.

"Apparently Austrian phone numbers were used," interior ministry spokesman Rudolf Gollia told AFP. "But we can't say anything further. The investigations are underway and we're in contact with Dubai police."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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