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ISRAEL: Ireland sends Israeli diplomat packing with a message that forging passports is 'clearly unacceptable'

June 15, 2010 |  9:45 am

The government of Ireland called on Israel to "withdraw a designated member of its staff" from its embassy in Dublin, Reuters reported Tuesday. This polite wording means that a third country is kicking out a Mossad rep over misuse -- forgery, in this case -- of its passports in the assassination of Mahmoud el Mabhouh in Dubai in January. Previously, Britain and Australia each sent packing an unnamed Israeli diplomat said to be the intelligence agency's representative in response to the misuse of their passports.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said in a statement that the misuse of Irish passports by a state with which Ireland enjoys friendly, if sometimes frank, bilateral relations is clearly unacceptable and requires a "firm response."

The Mossad is widely believed to be behind the assassination. Israel isn't commenting. But quite a few Israelis with dual nationalities learned from the Dubai police that their identities had recently visited Dubai without them.

Minister Martin said the fact that the fake Irish passports were used by the members of the same group who carried the forged British and Australian passports "leads us to the inescapable conclusion that an Israeli government agency was responsible for the misuse and, most likely, the manufacture of the forged Irish passports associated with the murder of Mr. Mabhouh." 

Ireland expressed its intention two weeks ago but sought a decent interval to avoid linking this to the flotilla affair, Israeli media had reported at the time. 

Not all the passports used in the hit were fake. At least one, a German passport, was genuine (read a previous post about how it was obtained), issued to one Michael Bodenheimer who submitted convincing documents in Cologne while accompanied by another man. Bodenheimer, the real one, had never left Israel. Germany thinks it found the fixer in the passport scam and at their request, Polish authorities arrested one "Uri Brodsky," (or a variant,"Brodetsky") an Israeli citizen. Germany wants him extradited; he probably will be.

The mysterious assassination saga continues to unfold as cover stories unravel, and other shoes just keep dropping. But just how many feet were there-- and why so many? Ronen Bergman, an Israeli investigative journalist specializing in intelligence issues, explained on Israeli radio this week that the method chosen by "whoever did it" was complicated and required many people for surveillance, breaking into the room, making it lock from the inside afterwards, scouts everywhere, and so on.

And the method was probably dictated by the arena, Bergman said. A "louder," less sophisticated plan like, say, shooting him in the street, would have resulted in all exits to Dubai being sealed off immediately, leaving agents no way out. The "quiet" alternative called for considerable manpower. Various mistakes in both planning and implementation, he suggested, made the quiet op the loudest of all.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem.