Some of the biggest news broken today about the Dubai assassination of Hamas weapons man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh comes courtesy Judith Miller, who reported in Tablet Magazine that Mossad tried to kill al-Mabhouh (at least) twice before. She also placed the successful plot in the context of Mossad’s general policy of terrorist and terrorist-sponsor assassination, as did the Los Angeles Times, which concluded: “The policy is not likely to change, analysts and diplomats say, because such killings, from Israel’s point of view, have proved effective in fighting a nonconventional enemy. And despite legal questions and international backlash, Israel has usually emerged unscathed.”
But this just may have scathed it. While plenty in both the Israeli and British presses have celebrated Mossad’s “““““alleged””””” killing, there are at least six people who are not so happy: those folks, all with dual British-Israeli citizenship, whose faked passports were used by the assassins “were completely unaware of this abuse,” notes Der Spiegel. “They are shocked and are demanding an investigation.” The European Union condemned the faked passports, though its official statement did not mention Israel. Oh, and Iran used the occasion to argue, “Israel’s existence is itself based on terrorist activities.” But it does that every Tuesday.
Some may have called for Mossad chief Meir Dagan to step down, but he is way too important to Israel’s low-temperature conflict with Iran to be sacked. In Israel, the plot may on some level be controversial, but opposition leader Tzipi Livni rallied around the flag: “that a terrorist was killed, and it doesn’t matter if it was in Dubai or Gaza, is good news,” she said.
Is that true? In Slate, Shmuel Rosner says it’s too soon to tell if al-Mabhouh’s death is worth the ostensible hit Mossad is taking to its reputation. And Der Spiegel—whose lengthy treatment of the story is amply worth your time if you’ve read this far—makes a great point:
Mossad was apparently prepared to accept the possibility that the identities of its agents would be revealed. In fact, it was even willing to jeopardize the security of Israel’s own citizens, whose very protection it cites as justification for its actions. … the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh must have been very important to Jerusalem.
Assassination Tango [Tablet Magazine]
Israel Relies on a Deadly Specialty [LAT]
A Mossad Operation Gone Awry? [Der Spiegel]
A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Dubai Assassination [Slate]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.