Dubai police said Tuesday they are seeking the arrest of Israel’s prime minister and the head of its spy agency over the murder of a top Hamas militant in a hotel room of the Gulf city-state.
Police chief Dahi Khalfan said he had issued the demand for the arrest warrants as he was now certain they ordered the Cold War-style hit on Mahmud al-Mabhuh.
“I have presented the (Dubai) prosecutor with a request for the arrest of (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and the head of Mossad,” Meir Dagan, said Khalfan.
“I am now completely sure that it was Mossad,” said the police lieutenant general.
Mabhuh, a founder of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas organisation’s military wing, was found dead in a room of the luxurious Al Bustan Rotana hotel near Dubai’s airport on January 20.
Dubai police have identified 26 suspects from the hit squad murder they say bore the hallmarks of the Mossad. The Hamas man had been drugged and then suffocated.
Khalfan said last month that Dubai would issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu if Israel was found to be implicated in the murder of the Palestinian militant.
Netanyahu “will be the first to be wanted for justice as he would have been the one who signed the decision to kill al-Mabhuh in Dubai,” he was quoted as saying in The National newspaper on February 5.
“We will issue an arrest warrant against him,” said the English-language newspaper published in Abu Dhabi.
Police say the suspects entered Dubai on fake passports using the identities of 12 people from Britain, six from Ireland, four from France, three Australians and a German, before fleeing the Gulf emirate.
Two members of the hit squad which killed Mabhuh had “returned to the United States after passing through a European country,” said Dhalfan, who on Monday said the suspects were hiding out in Israel where they could avoid arrest.
Israeli officials have refused to confirm or deny the reports.
But Israel’s media sees the killing as Mossad’s work, and the probe has caused a diplomatic headache for the Jewish state with the countries whose passports were used summoning its envoys to hear angry protests.
On Tuesday, Ireland’s Sinn Fein defended a town council’s decision to remove a page in its guestbook signed by the Israeli ambassador over the alleged use of Irish passports in the Dubai murder.
The Israeli embassy in Dublin described the incident as “a rare exception” initiated by “publicity seeking” by Sinn Fein.
In Lebanon, an MP representing the Shiite militant group Hezbollah said security must be stepped up for all foreigners entering the country as they could be secret agents like the assassins in Dubai.
Australia meanwhile said that it was sending police to Israel to investigate how its passports were used in the elaborate plot
Khalfan told AFP Western passports would be closely inspected following the Mabhuh’s murder but that Jews would not be singled out.
“We respect all people and all religions, whether they are Muslims, Jews, Christians or others,” Dahi Khalfan told AFP, asked about remarks attributed to him that “all Jews” would be prevented from entering Dubai.
He said immigration services would be on their guard “after Israel’s abuse of passports from Western countries,” although there was no way of knowing if a Westerner entering the United Arab Emirates was an Israeli with dual citizenship.
“The officers of the immigration service will now look twice if they have any doubt about the documents or photos, and will scan them,” he said.