Middle East Online, First Published 2010-02-21
Netanyahu to murderers: ‘The people of Israel trust you’
Report: Hardline Netanyahu wished assassins ‘good luck’ before they murdered Hamas man.
LONDON – Hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met members of an assassination squad at Mossad headquarters shortly before they went to Dubai to murder a Hamas commander, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported.
Netanyahu was welcomed to Mossad by its chief Meir Dagan and briefed on plans to murder Mahmud al-Mabhuh, a top commander of the democratically elected Palestinian movement, the paper said, quoting unnamed sources with knowledge of Mossad.
The prime minister reportedly authorised the mission, which was not seen as complicated or risky.
“Typically on such occasions, the prime minister intones: ‘The people of Israel trust you. Good luck,’” the paper added.
It also quoted a source saying burns from a stun gun were found on the body of Mabhuh, a founder of Hamas’s armed wing who was killed on a visit to Dubai, and that there were traces of a nose bleed, possibly from being smothered.
The high-profile killing has caused diplomatic tensions between Israel and four European countries — Britain, Ireland, France and Germany — whose fake passports were linked to the hit.
Interpol has issued arrest notices for 11 suspects, while Israel has shrugged off calls for Dagan to be arrested over the January 20 killing.
Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim has said it was “most likely” Mossad was behind the crime and wants Dagan to bear responsibility if it was.
“The Dubai police have provided no incriminating proof,” a senior Israeli official said Friday, asking not to be identified.
Mossad has used agents with fake passports for operations in the past. Experts say it is highly unlikely that those who carried out the killing will ever be caught.