On the surface, Australia appears to be investigating how our passports were used in the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai but will any of this really affect Israeli/Australian relations in the long run?
The Australian Federal Police will send a team of agents to Israel this week to investigate how forged Australian passports were used in the assassination of a Hamas leader.
Dubai police believe Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in his hotel room in the emirate on January 19 by a team of assassins sent by Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad.
They have released photographs of 26 people they believe were involved in the killing, three of whom were carrying forged Australian passports bearing the names of three dual Australian-Israeli citizens.
The three, Adam Korman, Joshua Bruce and Nicole McCabe, are all living in Israel and have said they have no idea how their passports were forged.
Dubai police have said that 12 British passports, six Irish, four French and one German were also used in the assassination. Most of the passports carried the names of real people who were also dual Israeli citizens.
Israel told the Australian government last night that it would allow the federal police into the country to the question the three Australians.
The Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, summoned Israel’s ambassador, Yuval Rotem, for questioning on Sunday over the misuse of the passports.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has said he was not satisfied with the explanation given by Mr Rotem.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that at least two of the 26 suspected members of the team that tracked and killed Mabhouh had travelled to the US shortly afterwards.
Records show one of the suspects entered the US on January 21 using an Irish passport and another arrived in the US on February 14 using a British passport.
Investigators are uncertain whether the two are still in the US, but believe they may have already left using different passports to the ones they used to enter the country.
Last night the Dubai police chief, Dahi Khalfan, said he was sure that all the suspects in the assassination were now in Israel, where they will be able to avoid arrest.
“If they stay in Israel, they won’t be arrested, but eventually if they leave they will be arrested,” he said.