Assassination is an ugly business. This is true whether it is done by a Reaper drone on our unavowed battle field in Pakistan or in more close-up manner in a luxury hotel in Dubai. The killing of leaders of your enemy off of the battle field and out of the country of conflict is a bad business for a lot of reasons. Foremost is that if you kill all the leadership of any group it greatly increases the difficulty in making peace. Secondarily, but still important it brings other countries into the conflict, and not always on your side.
This is where Israel is today in regards to the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhuh. Let’s get one thing out of the way right away; Mr. Mabhuh was not in any way an innocent by-stander. He was alleged to be a founder of the armed wing of the Hamas movement. He had admitted to the killing of two Israeli soldiers and was suspected of being a conduit for weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Without getting into to justifying motives, one thing about Mr. Mabhuh is clear, he was a solider in a war against Israel.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net
However, he was not killed in the Gaza Strip, nor was he arrested, he was murdered in the Al Bustan Rotana hotel on January 19th of this year. What makes his murder of interest is the fact there is a lot of evidence surrounding it. Through the use of video tapes the Dubai authorities were able to determine that several people followed Mr. Mabhuh to his hotel, checked into a room across from his and entered his room while he was gone.
While Israel has disavowed any knowledge or participation in the killing of Mr. Mabhuh, the general consensus is that this was a Mossad assassination. This has lead to seriously strained relations with the British Government, as several passports of British origin were used by the alleged assassins.
This has lead to an investigation by the British government. NPR is reporting that eight of the passports were under the names of people living in Israel with dual British and Israeli citizenship. The British government has been in contact with all of these people, they all deny any knowledge or participation in any fashion in the killing.
This has lead to today’s expected expulsion of an Israeli diplomat. David Milliband will address Parliament today and detail the results of the British investigation.
It is one thing for Israel to act to kill soldiers of an current enemy. The laws of war allow for that, even away from the battle field. It is quite another for it to use the names and forged documents of citizens of a third nation to gain access to do the killing. While it might seem that the crime of assassination overshadows the forgery the reality is that by using a nation like Briton to confuse the trail Israel is, in effect, pulling England into its conflict with Hamas.
With the level of distrust between the Muslim world and the West these days, any action that complicates the nation’s relations is to be avoided. The mere perception that Briton would be part of this kind of killing and would sanction it weakens the Crowns ability to negotiate in good faith with other nations. Issues like resolving Iran’s nuclear program become even harder.
In the end we will probably never know with complete surety who killed Mr. Mabhuh. It will always be suspected that it was agents of Mossad. Regardless of that, Israel’s relationship with England will be strongly damaged for some time to come. There may be times when the only way to deal with an enemy of your nation is to kill him, but it is clear that assassination, in a third country, under the guise of citizens of fourth, fifth and sixth countries is not the way to do it.
The floor is yours.