x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Netanyahu faces arrest in Hamas hotel murder if Mossad link proved

Israeli PM will be at top of most wanted list if his secret service is behind the death of Mahmoud al Mabhouh, Dubai Police said.

DUBAI // The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will be at the top of Dubai's wanted list if the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad is proven to be behind the killing of a senior Hamas official, the Dubai Police chief said yesterday. Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim told The National that "Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will be the first to be wanted for justice as he would have been the one who signed the decision to kill [Mahmoud] al Mabhouh in Dubai. We will issue an arrest warrant against him." He did not, however, assert that Mossad was definitively responsible for the killing; Hamas has accused the Israeli agency of killing Mr al Mabhouh. He was found dead in a Dubai hotel room on January 20, less than a day after arriving in the UAE. No bodyguards accompanied him on the trip, Hamas has said. Gen Tamim had said the method used to kill Mr al Mabhouh was a "Mossad method" but did not elaborate. He added that Mossad "has carried out operations" in the past using similar procedures. Dubai Police had also earlier said only that the involvement of Mossad could not be ruled out. The exact methods used in Mr al Mabhouh's killing have not been revealed. However, initial forensic reports suggested that he was given an electric shock before being suffocated. Further tests are being conducted. Police suspect other factors could have contributed to his death, including poisoning. Since the beginning of the investigation, authorities have declined to rule out Mossad's involvement in the killing. Mr al Mabhouh arrived in the UAE on January 19 about 3.15pm and was dead within five hours, police have said. His assailants had been in the country less than 24 hours before the killing and left before his body was discovered in his hotel, the Al Bustan Rotana in Al Garhoud, they said. Mr al Mabhouh, 50, was a founder of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedeen al Qassam Brigades. He was wanted by the Israeli government in connection with the kidnappings of two Israeli soldiers in 1989. Israeli defence officials also said Mr al Mabhouh played "a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza militants". Israel, as a matter of policy, has refused to comment on the death, but the country's secret service has been behind many similar assassinations of Palestinian activists since the 1960s. wissa@thenational.ae