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MIDDLE EAST: Fatah, Hamas trade accusations as region reels from Hamas assassination

February 17, 2010 | 11:25 am


Mabhouh shem

The consequences of the assassination of a leading Hamas figure in Dubai continue to roil the Middle East after authorities released pictures and video footage of the suspects, who are widely believed to be Mossad agents.

Mahmoud Mabhouh, an alleged Hamas weapons procurer, was found strangled in a Dubai hotel room last month.

Dubai authorities said passport names and numbers of some of those allegedly involved in the killings were linked to European nationals living in Israel, raising suspicions that Israeli clandestine services had a hand in the killing.

But the case has also raised tensions between the two warring Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah.

Fayek al-Mabhouh, the brother of the slain Hamas operative, told Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday that he believes the assassins "received a green light from parties in the Palestinian Authority," adding fuel to tensions ignited earlier this week after two Palestinians implicated in the killing were arrested in Jordan.

"We are not surprised at the news of the arrests of Palestinians in Dubai, because we know that some members of [Fatah] who had fled the Gaza Strip were living in Dubai as businessmen and they have business interests there," Mabhouh was quoted saying by the Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper.

The same article quoted Palestinian Authority security spokesman Adnan Dameeri as denying Hamas claims that the two Palestinian suspects were tied to the authority. He even went as far as to suggest that Hamas figures may have had a hand in other assassinations.

The case has also created bad blood between Hamas and the Persian Gulf states.

Hamas and the United Arab Emirates, which includes the city-state of Dubai, have a history of bad blood. Last year, the Emirates deported a number of Palestinians from Gaza in what appeared to be a political slap in the face to Hamas.

Al Jazeera reported earlier this month that Qatar had to intercede before the UAE would even release Mabhouh’s body, nine days after his death.

Some have even blamed Hamas itself for a security lapse that allowed the group's enemies to strike.

“No one blames Dubai for failing to prevent the crime," said Mohammad Sadiq Diab, writing in Al Sharq Al Awsat. "How could a man, with the permission of the organization to which he belongs, and knowing that he is wanted and being followed, allow himself to come to Dubai under an alias and without informing the government of Dubai so that it could protect him?”

Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar has warned that Israel has opened the door to Hamas attacks on foreign soil, but observers doubt the movement has the capacity to carry out a sophisticated operation abroad.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: The son of Mahmoud Mabhouh carries his coffin during a funeral in Syria, where he resided with his family. Credit: Associated Press

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