Israeli officials remained silent in the wake of a Dubai police decision to seek the arrest of the Israeli prime minister and the head of its spy agency over the assassination of a top Hamas commander in the Gulf emirate.
Last Wednesday, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office nor the foreign ministry would comment on Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan’s order for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
Al-Jazeera television reported on Wednesday that Khalfan ‘said he would ask the Dubai prosecutor to issue arrest warrants for . . . Netanyahu and the head of Mossad.’ It did not give details.
He also said he did not believe Israel’s prime minister would be arrested as a result, but emphasised that ‘whoever gave the order for the assassination is a murderer.’
Khalfan has said he is 100 per cent sure that Israeli agents were involved in the killing of Hamas commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh at a Dubai hotel in January, calling for Mossad’s boss, Meir Dagan, to be arrested if it is proved responsible.
Khalfan said on Monday Mossad had ‘insulted’ Dubai and Western countries whose fraudulent passports were used by suspects in the assassination.
Earlier in the day, Khalfan said that authorities in the Gulf emirate would be on the lookout for ‘Jews’.
Khalfan pointed at his own face, saying ‘We know how to recognise them.’
The United Arab Emirates will ‘deny entry to anyone suspected of having Israeli citizenship’, he said, adding that Israelis with dual nationality would be denied entry.
‘We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have,’ Khalfan said. Police will ‘develop skills’ to recognise Israelis by ‘physical features and the way they speak’, he said.
Dubai has asked the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into prepaid cards issued by the Meta Financial Group’s MetaBank which the suspects used.
Citing an FBI source, The National newspaper said the investigation would look into any Israeli involvement in the killing.
‘Thirteen of the 27 suspects used prepaid MasterCards issued by MetaBank, a regional American bank, to purchase plane tickets and book hotel rooms,’ said Dubai police.
MetaBank said it followed proper procedures when it issued the cards.
Authorities told the bank that the suspects appeared to have used stolen passports to get employment with US companies, MetaBank said in a statement on Tuesday.
The companies paid the employees with prepaid cards issued by MetaBank and other banks.
MetaBank said it had launched its own review of the matter, and had so far found that it followed all bank and regulatory requirements.
The suspects authorities had identified were not on any list that would indicate their identities were fraudulent, it said.
The UAE, a US-allied Arab state that backs the Palestinian drive for an independent state and an end to Israeli occupation, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
But it has established low-level political and trade links in recent years, with some Israeli officials attending events in the Gulf Arab state.
Members of the hit squad used fraudulent passports from Britain, Ireland, Germany, France and Australia.
The passport abuse has drawn criticism from the European Union, and some of the governments involved have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to protest.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation military and one of its soldiers are no longer ‘friends’ after the gunner posted details of an impending West Bank raid on his Facebook page, leading to the mission being aborted, reports said on Wednesday.
The decision was made by Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier-General Nitzan Alon, who feared that the leaked information may put the Israeli force in danger.
The Israeli soldier, from an artillery unit, updated his page on the social networking site, saying ‘on Wednesday we are cleaning Qatanna, and on Thursday, God willing, going home,’ army radio reported.
Other soldiers in the unit, who saw the posting, alerted their officers and the planned raid on Qatanna, a village near the city of Ramallah, was called off, the radio said. The army had no immediate comment.
The Israeli soldier’s page contained details of his unit and the exact time and location of the planned sweep.
The Israeli army frequently carries out raids in the occupied West Bank, detaining Palestinians.
The army apparently did not ‘like’ the post, and the soldier was suspended from the unit, the radio said.
The Israeli occupation army has been holding a wide-scale campaign explaining the potential damage in exposing classified information on the internet.
In several incidents, soldiers and officers have been disciplined for violating these instructions.
Occupation army officials admit there is a great difficulty monitoring these publications, but that pre-emptive activity and heavy punishments could significantly reduce the leaking of such information.
• Syrian President Bashar Assad told former senior White House officials two weeks ago that US policy in the Middle East has been wrong for the past decade and has created a vacuum that has been filled by other countries, meaning Iran and Turkey.
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, who served on the National Security Council during the Clinton and Bush administrations, said that Assad told them Iran’s rise has not come at Syria’s expense because all three countries have improved their regional strategic standing.
Despite Assad’s criticism of US policy choices, the Leveretts said the Syrian president seemed satisfied with his meeting the day before with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.
However, Assad made clear that Syria’s ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas were ‘not on the table’.
Flynt Leverett said that an Assad adviser had told him recently that Syria would find it difficult to distance itself from Iran because only Iran had stood by Syria in the aftermath of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Leverett added, ‘If Israel were prepared to conclude a peace treaty with Syria, meeting its longstanding requirements for a full return of the occupied Golan Heights to the June 4, 1967 lines, Assad said he “could not say no”.’