Australia warned Israel on Thursday that if it was involved in the
alleged use of three fraudulent Australian passports in the
assassination of a Hamas terror chief in Dubai it would not be
considered the "act of a friend," the foreign minister said.
Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador and demanded his
cooperation in an investigation into the use of the passports in the
killing of a senior Hamas figure.
Dubai authorities are investigating the use of at least 26 possibly fraudulent passports
in connection with the January 19 slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
made it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of that
investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of the
Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli
officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a
friend," Smith told reporters.
Smith told Parliament that Dubai
authorities confirmed to Australian officials Tuesday that they were
investigating the use of three Australian passports in connection with
the slaying, and that a preliminary investigation suggests they were
fraudulently duplicated or altered.
"At this stage, Australian
officials have no information to suggest that the three Australian
passport holders were involved in any way, other than as victims of
passport or identity fraud," Smith said.
Smith said all three Australians — Joshua Daniel Bruce, Adam Korman and Nicole McCabe — live in Israel.
In Melbourne, Sarah Bruce said she is worried that her son could be the target of reprisal attacks before people realize he was the victim of identity theft.
"I am fearful, but hopefully everyone will see that it is fraud," Bruce told reporters. "It's not his photo in the pictures they're flashing around everywhere."
Smith said he met with
United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah on Wednesday, and
with Israel's Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Yuval Rotem, on
Thursday morning, to reinforce Australia's full cooperation and the
seriousness of the matter.
Dubai police have outlined a 19-hour
operation to kill al-Mabhouh, including clockwork precision and
disguises such as fake beards, wigs and tourist garb.
Israel says al-Mabhouh played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza terrorists.
The suspects using foreign passports are 12 Britons, six Irish, four French, three Australian and one German.
least seven of the 26 passports share names with people living in
Israel, reinforcing widespread suspicion about Mossad involvement and
bringing sharp complaints from European ambassadors about how the
expertly altered passports were obtained.