Israel denies Mossad behind Hamas assassination in Dubai
Israel's Foreign Minister denied Wednesday that his country's intelligence agency Mossad was behind the assassination of a senior Hamas member in Dubai, DPA reported.
Issuing the first reaction by an Israeli official to suspicions that Mossad killed Mahmoud al-Mahbouh, Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that it was "not correct" to assume that Israel was behind the assassination.
His comments come after revelations that several of the people named by Dubai authorities as being part of the hit team bore the same names as British immigrants to Israel.
"I don't know why we take it for granted that it was Israel or the Mossad that used those passports or the identities of that British citizen, " the minister told Israel Army Radio.
Rafi Eitan, a former government minister and high-ranking Mossad official, was more direct.
"The Mossad was not behind the assassination of Mahmoud el- Mabhouh, but rather a foreign organization that is trying to frame Israel," he told the radio station.
Al-Mahbouh, 50, one of the founders of the Hamas military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, was found dead in his hotel room on January 20, a day after arriving in Dubai.
Police in the United Arab Emirates have named 11 Europeans as suspects in his murder, among them three Irish and six British passport holders.
But the governments of both countries have said they did not issue the documents which were "fraudulent."
Two of the British men, who have lived in Israel for many years, were reported Wednesday to have been shocked at the use of their identity.
According to the BBC, Israel-based Melvyn Mildiner, 31, who holds a British and Israeli passport, said he had never been to Dubai.
"Wow, I didn't know that (the number) was out. That's horrid," he said, adding: "I have never been to Dubai."
Mildiner also revealed that although the name and number of the travel papers matched his own, the date of birth was off by a few days.
British-born Paul Keeley, 42, a builder who has lived on a Kibbutz in northern Israel for the past 15 years and had not left Israel for two years, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph reported.
"When I first heard about this I immediately looked to make sure my passport was still there and it was," he said. It has not been stolen so I don't know what on earth has happened," he said.
"It is all very worrying but I know I have not done anything wrong."
Those travelling with UK documents were named as Michael Lawrence Barney, James Leonard Clarke, Jonathan Louis Graham, Paul John Keeley, Stephen Daniel Hodes and Melvyn Adam Mildiner.
It is believed that while details like the names, numbers and dates of birth on the suspect passports matched the originals, the photographs and signatures differed.
The group accused of his murder is comprised of three Irish, six British, one French and one German citizen.
Dubai's police chief Lieutenant Colonel Dhafi Khalfan Tamim said the identities of the suspects had been passed to Interpol, so that international warrants for their arrest may be issued.