Britain and Ireland on Thursday appeared to accuse Israel of being behind last month's assassination of a top Hamas operative in Dubai when they summoned Israeli representatives to explain the misuse of British and Irish passports in the operation.
The team of at least 11 that took out Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a Dubai hotel in January were all carrying European passports. Dubai police released security camera footage identifying the squad members and the names on their passports. Most of the names were those of Israelis who had immigrated from European nations over the past 10-15 years.
At least three of those whose names were used spoke to Israeli television media the day after and expressed astonishment, noting that they clearly were not the people in the passport photographs.
In a meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor, Sir Peter Ricketts, head of the British diplomatic service, called the incident "identity theft," and demanded Israel cooperate fully with an investigation into the fraudulent use of the identities of at least six British Israelis.
Israel's envoy to Ireland, Zion Evrony, was also called in to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for clarification.
Both ambassadors said they were unable to shed any further light on the incident. Israel maintains that it was not behind Mabhouh's assassination.
There remain many holes in the theory that Israel's Mossad spy agency masterminded the hit, including the fact that Mossad would be very unlikely to use the identities of average Israelis as cover for its agents.
Many in Israeli believe Hamas' rivals in the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority were behind the assassination, as PA leader Mahmoud Abbas had reason to both want Mabhouh dead and to make Israel look bad on the international stage.
A number of Hamas leaders share this view, and have claimed that at least two of the suspected assassins already arrested by Dubai police were former PA security office