Published January 14, 2015
Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said Thursday he was "99 percent certain" that Israel was involved in the killing of a Hamas militant at a luxury hotel, as Israeli diplomats played down British and Irish concerns that passports from the two countries were forged as part of the plot.
Tamim told Emirati newspaper The National that the investigation revealed Mossad, Israel's spy agency, to be behind the murder.
But Israel played down the diplomatic disagreement following the killing of a top Hamas commander in Dubai by alleged Mossad agents caught on camera and carrying European passports.
"It is important to note that no one (formally) accuses Israel. There is no proof linking Israel to this affair," a senior official said ahead of a meeting on Thursday to which the Foreign Office in London invited Israel's ambassador.
The Israeli official, who asked not to be named, stressed that British authorities "have not summoned the ambassador but invited him for a discussion," showing Britain wanted to make it clear "there is no crisis."
Ireland also called in its Israeli ambassador.
The killing of Mahmoud al Mabhouh, a top militant of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, last month while allegedly on a weapons purchasing trip to Dubai was widely blamed on Mossad.
Dubai police released the photos and names of 11 suspects with European passports - six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France - alleged to be members of the hit squad.
In keeping with tradition, Mossad, which used agents with fake foreign passports for such operations in the past, kept mum on the affair.
Dubai's police chief also insisted Thursday the passports were genuine.
"Dubai's police investigation may present the Israeli government and intelligence with tough questions," Israeli newspaper Haaretz said.
The newspaper also asked in an editorial whether it was "proper to place in harm's way Israelis whose identities were ostensibly stolen and used by the assassins?"
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday pledged a "full investigation" of the passports affair.
But Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper insisted Thursday "the European states whose passports were used cannot direct firm accusations at Israel before they know the facts clearly."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday there was no reason to believe Mossad was involved, shrugging off suggestions that ties between Israel and Britain could be strained over the affair.
"There is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad and not some other intelligence service or country up to some mischief," he said.
"I think Britain recognizes that Israel is a responsible country and that our security activity is conducted according to very clear, cautious and responsible rules of the game. Therefore we have no cause for concern."