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Britain, Ireland summon Israel envoys over Dubai killing

Feb. 17, 2010 9:26 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 18, 2010 11:39 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Britain and Ireland will ask Israel on Thursday to explain why six alleged members of a hit squad that killed a Hamas commander in Dubai last month entered the emirate with false UK and Irish passports.

The London-based newspaper The Guardian said the Israeli ambassador will be called in to the Foreign Office on Thursday to "share information" about the use of identities stolen from six [UK] citizens living in Israel who deny involvement in the assassination of former Hamas commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh last month.

British Prime Minister Gordon Blown has also launched a "full investigation" into the use of British passports that will be led by the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), according to the report.

"The British passport is an important part of being British and we have to make sure everything is done to protect it," the prime minister reportedly said.

Al-Mabhouh was found dead in a Dubai hotel on 20 January. On Monday police in the emirate released the names and European passport information of 11 alleged assassins, along with CCTV footage of the hit squad entering and exiting the hotel. Police said Al-Mabhouh was suffocated to death.

Revenge

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians rallied in the northern Gaza Strip to mourn the death of Al-Mabhouh, a founder of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement.

Al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obaida said the "decision has been made" to respond to the assassination, for which Israel has largely been blamed.

He said Israel would soon "pay for their crime," and are awaiting a "harsh response," and warned Israel against invading Gaza again.

'Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies'

Also on Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that there was no definitive proof Israel's intelligence agency carried out the assassination, although he stopped short of denying it.

"I don't know why we are assuming that Israel, or the Mossad, used those passports," he said. "There is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad, and not some other intelligence service or country up to some mischief."

Lieberman stressed however that he was neither confirming nor denying responsibility for the killing.

"Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies," he said. "There is no reason for Israel to change this policy."
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