JERUSALEM // An Israeli supermarket chain has produced a television advertisement parodying the assassination of a Hamas military commander in Dubai earlier this year. The commercial uses spoof surveillance footage similar to the type released by police last month with actors dressed in the disguises worn by Mahmoud al Mabhouh's suspected killers.
The ad uses the slogan "Eliminate the prices" and ends with the line "We offer killer prices", according to the BBC. The supermarket group, Mashanei Kimat Hinam, denied the advert was in bad taste but admitted itwas cashing in on the notoriety of the case. It will be aired for the first time on Monday Al Mabhouh, a founder of the military wing of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza, was found dead in his room in the Al Bustan Rotana hotel near Dubai airport on January 20.
Dubai Police has said 27 suspects linked to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad drugged and suffocated the military chief. Israel has refused to either confirm or deny the claims. Sefi Shaked, an advertising executive at the supermarket, said, "Mabhouh is like [Osama] Bin Laden to us in Israel, and we take a lot of pride in his assassination. "The government might not be saying whether the Mossad was responsible, but most Israelis have no doubt it was a Mossad operation," Mr Shaked said. He said he was sure the campaign would be popular because "it hitches a ride on an issue under a lot of discussion but in a light-hearted way".
Mr Shaked denied that the advert was in bad taste. "It's clearly meant as a parody, it's not serious. Anyway, if Bin Laden was caught and executed by the American army, wouldn't US companies be using him in adverts the very next day? It's no different for us." He also dismissed the suggestion that it might embarrass the government by highlighting a growing international consensus that the Mossad was behind the hit and that the assassins were living in Israel.
"OK, the lookalikes are shopping in our store but the ad does not suggest that the real assassins are here in Israel. They don't speak to the cameras. It's for the viewer to make the inference." In the ad, several characters are seen prowling through a supermarket pushing a shopping trolley and apparently following a man. One man is dressed as a tennis player while a woman wears a wide-brimmed hat, wig and dark glasses, mirroring the outfits worn by the suspects. The assassins' elaborate disguises were recorded by security cameras at the hotel where the murder took place, and were released by Dubai Police last month.
International police agency Interpol issued arrest notices on Monday for a further 16 suspects wanted by Dubai in connection with the killing, on top of 11 already issued. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Charlie Hamilton reported from Abu Dhabi