Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Australian hit (and run) men in town?

March 4, 2010 |  5:52 pm

A team of three investigators from the Australian Federal Police has arrived in Israel to investigate the abuse of Australian passports in the assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai last month. The passports were issued in the names of three Israeli citizens with dual nationality, who were minding their own business in their Israel homes when they learned their identities had traveled to the United Arab Emirates as assassins. The news media has identified the three accidental "assassins" as Adam Marcus Korman, Nicole Sandra McCabe and Joshua Daniel Bruce.

Now it looks as though the Australian investigators might have been involved in a hit and run, as an embassy car believed to be driving the three through Tel Aviv allegedly hit a cyclist. Oshra Bar, 22, was knocked off her bike.  She wasn't hurt badly--but she wasn't helped, either, she said. The silver Toyota with embassy plates screeched out of nowhere and came right at her, she told reporters. "There's no doubt they knew they hit me," she said. The vehicle sped away as abruptly as it had arrived, she said, leaving her stunned and her bike broken.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that it had received a report about "an incident involving one of the drivers" from the embassy and that officials there were taking it seriously. She didn't comment on who was in the vehicle. Australian reporters, on the site covering the visit, surrounded Bar immediately and told her that it was the investigators' car. If there was anyone who didn't know the Australians were in town, well, now everybody knows. 

"At this stage, I want an apology from the Australian government and a new wheel for my bike," said Bar, a political activist from Jaffa.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted an Israeli Foreign Ministry source as saying the incident was "very weird." The source said, "You have law enforcement officers here from Australia, involved in what appears to be a hit-and-run accident and then seen escaping from the scene? ... It's new-generation Monty Python."

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem