Much of Israel’s own media believes the country’s secret service Mossad carried out the murder of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month. Editorials justify the killing by saying it was one life lost to save many. The main concerns appear to be why the operatives allowed themselves to be so comprehensively recorded on CCTV and forged passports that stole the identity of people living in Israel. But for the efficiency of the Dubai authorities the death would have continued to have been treated as from natural causes.
Apart from general opposition to death squads roaming the world, Foreign secretary David Milliband is disturbed that six of the assassins carried false British passports. It is a pity then that the UK has surrendered the moral high ground because any protests smack of hypocrisy.
The official Westminster view is rightly that state-sponsored assassinations cannot be condoned whoever the target. The rule of law should always prevail – not for nothing is the statue of Lady Justice blindfolded. Therefore if there is evidence of Mossad’s involvement, Tel Aviv should be called to account.
However in recent years the UK has found itself – whether fairly or not - implicated in extraordinary rendition and complicity in torture in pursuit of the war on terror. Away from that murky world what is clear is that we invaded Iraq on a false prospectus and waged a war of dubious legality. Tony Blair continues to maintain that the war’s death toll was the price of regime change and the removal of an even greater threat to life in the shape of Saddam Hussein.
The Israelis who consider themselves in a proxy war with Iran via Hamas might ask is there any real difference between the Americans taking out a Taliban leader with a drone in Afghanistan than what happened in Dubai? Or indeed the death of Jean Charles de Menezes shot by British police who believed the innocent Brazilian was carrying a bomb on to a London tube?