Britain dealt a potentially damaging blow to Israel’s tourism industry Wednesday by warning its citizens that traveling to the Jewish State may lead to their passports details being "captured" for “improper uses.”
France also is conducting a probe into the alleged forgery of French passports. "Further investigation has revealed that these four passports were actually false, as the photos did not correspond to the names appearing in each document," a statement by the French prosecutor said.
The British warning follows Britain’s expulsion of an unnamed senior Israeli diplomat from Britain, a retaliatory move for Israel’s allegedly cloning 12 British passports that were used by a counter terrorist team that assassinated Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January. The Mossad has widely been considered responsible for the highly sophisticated operation.
Israel has not denied or confirmed participation in the elimination of the terrorist, but British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday that there are "compelling reasons" to believe Israel was behind it.
Miliband said the passports had been copied from "genuine British passports" in a "highly sophisticated operation," indicating that a state intelligence service was responsible. He charged that that a state inquiry concluded there was “circumstantial evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports.”
The British government advised citizens, "This has raised the possibility that your passport details could be captured for improper uses while your passport is out of your control. The risk applies in particular to passports without biometric security features. We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties, including Israeli officials, when absolutely necessary."
Israel has a stated policy on security matters of neither confirming nor denying involvement.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman complained to Britain that no evidence has been presented that points to Israel's involvement in the affair” and added, “We regret the British decision."