Israel praises elimination of ‘cruel enemy’

ISRAEL’S largest daily tabloid yesterday praised the elimination of a “cruel enemy” and urged readers not to worry about diplomatic relations with Ireland.

The assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, allegedly by the Israeli secret service Mossad whose agents carried fake Irish and other European passports, has caused a storm of media coverage around the globe.

While much of the coverage in the Middle Eastern state was mixed, its largest daily tabloid newspaper Yediot Ahronot praised the killing.

Writing in the paper, Eitan Haben, a longtime associate of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, expressed happiness for the elimination of a “cruel enemy”.

“Let’s assume for the moment that the Mossad indeed eliminated the arch-terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Let’s assume that the Mossad operatives were revealed.

“This is not an embarrassment, it is an impressive achievement... As for the unpleasantness with governments – Britain, Ireland and France – don’t worry,” wrote Mr Haben.

Elsewhere, in the Jerusalem Post, Steve Linde also praised the alleged hit and said that while the operation was messy, it was still a success.

“If the Mossad did orchestrate the operation, it wouldn’t be the first time it has been left with egg on its face. But ultimately, the mission was a success, and the hit squad presumably managed to get out of Dubai safely. So was the Mossad really behind the Dubai hit? Well, as the old line goes: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

However, Amir Oren writing in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest newspaper, called the assassination “a diplomatic mess”.

“After the alleged Dubai mess, the Mossad chief must go. Once again, an assassination of a senior Hamas leader in a friendly Arab country; once again, an operation designed to kill someone quietly and inconspicuously; once again, a diplomatic mess,” he wrote.

Closer to home, in Britain The Guardian reported that already icy relations with Israel were now in “deep freeze”.

Julian Borger and Mark Tran wrote that while Britain has stopped short of accusing Israel of involvement, the Foreign Office signalled its displeasure by ignoring an Israeli plea to keep the summoning of its ambassador a secret.

“Relations were in the freezer before this. They are in the deep freeze now,” one official is quoted as saying in the newspaper.

In the Daily Telegraph, British foreign minister David Miliband described the use of false British passports in the operation as an “outrage” and denied the British Government was “going through the motions” and just asking questions about the incident.

“There’s obviously been a very serious incident involving British passports... we think it is right to have the investigation the Prime Minister has launched.

“That is not going through the motions, that is the rightful business of government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that France have also called on Israel to explain why a French passport was used by one of the hit squad in the alleged Mossad operation.

“We are asking for explanations from Israel’s embassy in France over the circumstances of the use of a fake French passport in the assassination of a Hamas member in Dubai,” the foreign ministry is quoted as saying in an electronic news briefing.

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