JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with members of a Mossad hit squad and approved their mission to kill a top Hamas official, a British newspaper reported.
In an extensive report on the assassination last month in Dubai of top Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Sunday Times cited "sources with knowledge of Mossad" detailing the assassination, allegedly undertaken by an 11-member team from the Israeli intelligence agency.
The mission, according to the newspaper, was not regarded as "unduly complicated or risky." The team rehearsed the killing at a Tel Aviv hotel, the Sunday Times wrote.
Al-Mabhouh was the official responsible for arranging arms supplies from Iran to Gaza, and was a founder of the Hamas military wing, Izzadin Kassam. He also was involved in the kidnappings and murders of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon, in 1989.
Hamas leaders claimed that an alleged Israeli assassination team entered Dubai using forged passports as part of the entourage of Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who visited the United Arab Emirates for a regional conference.
Six of the 11 people named by Dubai officials as being part of the assassination team have the same names as British-Israeli citizens.
The Mossad has suspended similar operations planned in the Middle East, fearing that its agents are at greater risk, the newspaper reported.
An Israeli source told the Times that the Mossad team was aware that the hotel had a network of security cameras in the hotel, "but they have been astonished at the ability of the Dubai police to reconstruct and assemble all the images into one account.”
The British government has denied that it knew that the operation was going to take place and that it approved of it, according to the newspaper.
On Saturday, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the passport of a German citizen allegedly used by a member of the Mossad team was genuine.
Israeli citizen Michael Bodenheimer received his German passport last June and reportedly traveled to Dubai with it on Jan. 19, according to the newspaper.