Intrigue in Dubai


After a Hamas operative was assassinated in Dubai, questions abound about whether it was a sloppy hit by the Mossad or a party looking to pin the kill on Israel’s famed intelligence agency.

Steve Linde of the Jerusalem Post offers this, without elabortation: "Israel is a small place, and I have spoken to several people who say the photographs of the suspects resemble people they know."

In any case, the Mossad is already taking some lumps in Israel.

First, did the goal and outcome justify the risk of carrying out a hit in a moderate Arab country and of exposing the intelligence community’s modus operandi? Or did the operational opportunity to get rid of an individual responsible for past terror attacks and current weapons smuggling encourage those who approve and carry out such actions to waive some of the rules of caution?

Second, in a tense period in which Israel is trading threats of war with Iran and its allies in the region, should Israel be goading the enemy instead of maintaining restraint? Third, is it right, because of this hit, to embarrass the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, who share with Israel the fear of the Iranian threat? Fourth, in preparation for the operation, were the risks of exposure and restrictions on similar future actions taken into account?

Fifth, is there justification in damaging relations with friendly European countries whose passports were used by Mabhouh’s assassins?

Sixth, is it proper to place in harm’s way the Israelis whose identities were ostensibly stolen and used by the assassins?

  • Gideon Levy of Haaretz says hits on terrorists only beget more terrorists, and more trouble for Israel:

We eliminated Abbas al-Musawi? Well done, Israel Defense Forces. We got Hassan Nasrallah. We killed Ahmed Yassin? Well done, Shin Bet security service. We got a Hamas many times stronger. Abu Jihad was eliminated? Well done to the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit – of course, according to foreign news reports. We killed a potential partner, relatively moderate and charismatic. As a bonus, we got revenge attacks like those after "the Engineer" Yihyeh Ayash was slain. We also got the danger hovering over every Israeli and Jew in the world each anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, which was also blamed on Israel.

Let’s suppose the Dubai operation had worked out well and the suspicion that the Mossad had a hand in it proved correct. Do we really want to live in a country that has death squads, that sends the cream of its youth to suffocate people with pillows in hotel rooms, that has a man who craves adventurous actions as head of its intelligence organization and a man who approves them as its prime minister?

  • Yaakov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post defends the operation as a success.

Irrespective of who carried out the assassination, the operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed.

  • Ari Shavit in Haaretz says the operation in Dubai has lessons for the Mosssad about Iran:

There is a lesson to be learned from the Dubai affair: Even the best of the world’s spy organizations aren’t perfect. There’s a limit to what can be done. When you have an adversary that is determined and sophisticated, expect failures as well as triumphs. The belief that intelligence information can supply the solution to every predicament is dangerous. It can lull countries to sleep at fateful times…

The conclusion is unequivocal: With all due respect to the Mossad, Iran is too much for it to handle alone. The confrontation with Iran must not be limited to intelligence agencies; it has to include diplomacy and other means as well… If Israel mobilizes its resources and prepares properly, it will pass the test. But in order to do so, it must take its head out of the sand and stop believing that some magic spell invoked by Meir Dagan or Israel Air Force commander Ido Nehoshtan will do the job. Even if there is some magic, it won’t be enough. Iran isn’t only over there; it’s also right here. The Iranian challenge obligates us to reorganize every facet of our lives.

Because several of the alleged killers traveled on fake British passports using the identies of British immigrants to Israel, some are worried about the fallout for Israel with England.

The British and Israeli intelligence services are thought to cooperate closely in a variety of areas of common interest – including on the Iranian nuclear program, and in the fight against Sunni ‘Global Jihad’ organizations.

The warnings of major diplomatic fallout are probably overblown.

While the British government (and the governments of France and Ireland, whose passports were also reportedly used in the operation) will be understandably angry, past experience shows that disputes in this area tend to be treated as belonging to the special, sealed-off category of ‘national security.’ Where states have good reasons to maintain healthy ties with one another, such incidents are rarely allowed to muddy the waters for long.

  • But the U.K. Telegraph reports that the possibility of a diplomatic row is very real:

A senior Foreign Office source told The Daily Telegraph: “If the Israelis were responsible for the assassination in Dubai, they are seriously jeopardising the important intelligence-sharing arrangement that currently exists between Britain and Israel. “If it transpires that Israel has been using British passports to assassinate its opponents, the British government will need to give serious consideration to any future cooperation. Britain has cut ties with Mossad in the past, and will do so again if the Israelis are found to be acting against British interests.”

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