Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

A James Bond Flick Gone Bad….Israel Feels the Heat

Posted in Israel by Dan on February 27, 2010

Last week, I wrote a little post about the mysterious assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the man responsible for smuggling Iranian-made weapons into the Gaza Strip.  In case you missed it (which you probably haven’t), the killing occurred in a Dubai hotel room on January 19, presumably by a group of 11 Europeans.  Minus the electrocution and suffocation of the victim, the operation was caught by Dubai security cameras from all sides, adding a quality reminiscent of an action flick to the entire thing (by the way, if you want to look at the video, just do a quick Google search).

Well that was then.  A couple of things have happened over the past few days which are of dramatic importance in this case.  First off, more suspects have been named in the operation.  UAE authorities have released the names of another 15 people involved in the assassination.  Eight more people turned up in Israel on Thursday, claiming that their identities were stolen and used to travel to the United Arab Emirates.  And if the claims are indeed confirmed, this brings the total to an astounding 34 people, with the vast majority of them using passports of Israeli origin.

International uproar is at its highest point in the entire affair.  Great Britain, France, and Ireland are extremely upset that Israel may have used European passports in the hit without permission, so much so that the British Government summoned the Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. for a brief sit-down.  And of course, this does not even mention Arab attitudes about the assassination, which typically hasn’t been all that positive in the first place.

Israel hasn’t officially commented to the media, and is not expected to; the Jewish state is known to keep quite on national-security matters, neither confirming nor denying an operation took place.  But others are keenly waiting, and some are starting to ask whether Israel’s spy service (the Mossad) is actually keeping Israel safer.  The Economist devotes an entire article to this question, and people from all over the political spectrum are chiming into the debate.

Naturally, I couldn’t sit on the sidelines without spewing my own assessment of the situation.

While it’s hard to pinpoint with complete accuracy, there is evidence confirming that Mossad has kept Israel relatively safe from potential attacks. The agency is small, yet highly effective in what they do. Intelligence agencies and clandestine network throughout the world view the Israeli spy service as the most proficient in sophisticated operations. The fact that Mossad officials have infiltrated hostile territory with ease in the past demonstrates how meticulous the organization is. Hezbollah and Hamas- the Islamic militants responsible for most of Israel’s troubles over the past few years- know this full well. In fact, the assassination of a top Hamas commander in Dubai only verifies this belief in their minds.

Yet while Mossad may be a highly successful organization when it comes to counterterrorism, you have to wonder why they picked the United Arab Emirates as the location for the killing. Did they assume that Dubai authorities would give Israel a pass in the name of national-security? If so, it would appear that the Israelis forgot that there is a little thing called state sovereignty.

Questions about the assassination continue to circulate, there is still tons of speculation out there, and I suspect we will probably hear more news from Dubai authorities in the coming weeks. But what is clear is that Mossad made a tactical error; they embarrassed a moderate Arab country in front of the entire international community. Israel needs all the help it can get in terms of aid and recognition. Enemies of Israel are prevalent throughout the Middle East, and even traditional allies are becoming less sympathetic to Israel’s aims. Yet despite these circumstances, they chose to alienate an Arab state that is both pro-western and ideologically moderate.

It’s too early to tell, but this incident could severely degrade relations between Israel and the UAE. The last thing the Israeli Government wants is another angry Muslim country, especially when that country is labeled as pragmatic and somewhat tolerant.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of the Economist**

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8 Responses

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  1. Extranjero said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Stephen Spielberg’s movie Munich is a perfect reality that shows Mossad does not make Israel safer.

    Does Shin Bet make Israel safer? How angry do the Palestinians get when they see Palestinians beaten to death in public by Shin Bet?

  2. FFScotland said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Mossad becomes more like the Mafia by the day. Ostensibly it has a function – not to make money in this case, but to stop bad things happening to the State of Israel. But it gets more and more obsessed with the cult of killing.

  3. WTraveler said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    The Israeli assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai will not make Israel any safer; however, it will damage the safety of those whose identities were stolen by Mossad. Israel has been killing Palestinians since their state was founded; have these killings increased Israel’s security by one iota? Time to try a different approach for peace: agree to a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

  4. Juliannicholas said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Excellent work Mossad (or whoever did it)

    I don’t subscribe to the UK policy of giving DSS cheques to terrorists.

    And the funniest of all is the Brits moaning about illegal use of passports. What about the legality of the Iraq Invasion.

    Nice try Mr Dubai policeman but you are just chasing shadows and a property meltdown

  5. Graeme A said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    It may be worth noting that the question regarding the quality of service offered by the Shabak and Mossad is one to be answered by the Israeli public and government.
    So far they appear more than satisfied.
    The Israelis certainly aren’t going to ask the Europeans to provide for their security, or indeed, ask them how best this end be achieved.

  6. Froy" said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Israel is a thuggocracy

    • Juliannicholas said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      If Israel is a thugocracy what are the Arab Dictatorships??

      Speaking of which do we need another one (Palestinian State). Can Arafat’s wife please return the tens of millions of EU aid money. Or maybe can Hamas can spend their cash on importing weapons rather than feeding their people. Mind you i have never met an malnoursihed Palestinian.

  7. BritBobTexas said, on February 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Israel has every right to defend itself as any other country has but I fail to see the benefit of alienating allies or potential allies. Is there a pervading sense of arrogance within the Israeli Security Services? Are they now so elitist that they believe they can go it alone & to hell with everyone? A strange course of action for “God’s chosen people”.

    Perhaps I can suggest an addition to the Mossad library….”How To Make Friends And Influence People”


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