The Israeli government will be formally named as responsible for the assassination last month of a senior Hamas commander by a hit squad travelling on cloned British passports.
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Published: 6:00AM GMT 23 Mar 2010
Ron Proser, the Israeli Ambassador to London, was summoned to the Foreign Office on Monday to be told the results of an inquiry into the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, whose body was discovered in a luxury Dubai hotel room in January.
Several members of the team suspected of killing him were found to be travelling on passports cloned from documents belonging to British citizens living in Israel. Other passports had been stolen from Irish, German, Australian and French citizens.
Speculation grew last night that a senior Israeli diplomat would be expelled as a mark of the “anger” within the Government that British passport holders had been put at risk as a result of the operation.
A ministerial statement to be made to Parliament will formally name the Israeli security services as responsible for the cloning of up to 15 British passports, which were copied after being taken away by airport officials.
The statement will say that it proved impossible to confirm definitively whether Mossad, the feared Israeli secret intelligence service, was responsible for the operation, with suspicion also resting on the Military Intelligence Directorate.
But the probe had determined for certain that the passports were cloned when British citizens passed through airports on their way into Israel, with officials taking them away for “checks” which lasted around 20 minutes.
Foreign Office sources expressed frustration that there was little more that could be done to “punish” Israel over the affair.
A number of those whose passports were stolen had dual British and Israeli nationality.
They include Gabriella Barney, 23, and her father Michael, 54, along with Daniel Marc Schnur, 32, Roy Allan Cannon, 62, Stephen Keith Drake, 54, Mark Daniel Sklar, 30, and Philip Carr, 35.
A number of the innocent passport holders have expressed concern and upset that their identities were used for the assassination of a senior Hamas commander, which was carried out by a team of at least 23 operatives.
Israel has refused to confirm or deny any involvement in the audacious murder, insisting that it has a “policy of ambiguity”.
The suspects, including a number of women, were filmed on security cameras strolling through hotel lobbies disguised as tourists wearing tennis clothes.
They followed al-Mabhouh to his hotel room, where he was found suffocated hours later.
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