Daily Israel Report

Europe Puts Israel Under the Gun in Dubai Passport ‘Scandal’

The killing of Hamas co-founder al-Mabhouh turns into the “Dubai Debacle.” Israel faces EU heat over alleged use of false diplomatic passports.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/21/2010, 8:10 PM / Last Update: 2/21/2010, 8:35 PM

Israel news photo

Israel is facing intense heat from Britain and other European Union countries following Dubai police claims that last month’s assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was carried out with the use of forged diplomatic passports. Israel has been blamed for the operation.

United Arab Emirates UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan was quoted by a state news agency as saying that the “abuse of passports poses a global threat.”

Al-Mabhouh, who is suspected of having been in Dubai on a mission to buy weapons, was killed in a luxury hotel by a team of assassins who went around the premises dressed as tennis players before they killed the terrorist using an explosive electronic device.

Dubai police previously revealed that the assassins held foreign passports from Britain, France, Ireland and Germany but added new information on Sunday, alleging that the passports were diplomatic. Among the assassins’ passports were fakes of documents belonging to six British Israelis.

One of them was issued in Cologne in 2009 for Modi'in Illit Rabbi Michael Bodenheimer, according to Der Spiegel. He had contacted the immigration authorities in Cologne and showed evidence that his grandparents lived in Germany before World War II. Based on this information, he was given German citizenship but never took out a German passport.

When Der Spiegel's reporters checked out the address which appears on Bodenheimer's passport, they found nobody by that name residing there. 

The UAE foreign minister summoned European Union ambassadors to brief them after Britain and Ireland summoned Israeli ambassadors last week, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman probably will face a tough grilling on Monday during a visit to Brussels.

"I intend to meet the Israeli foreign minister in Brussels to underline our deep concern about the fake use of passports in Dubai and to seek reassurance and clarification on this very serious issue," said Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also is expected to raise the issue with Lieberman.

The assassination also weighs heavily on trade relations between Israel and the UAE, which has no formal diplomatic ties with the Jewish State.

Austria is also concerned because of reports that pre-paid chips made in its country were used in seven mobile phones used in the elimination of al-Mabhouh.

In Gaza, Hamas rejected Dubai police statements that Hamas was to blame for faulty security that allowed information about al-Mabhouh’s arrival to be leaked to Israeli intelligence agents.