Analysis: Was Mabhouh worth it?

Israel's close ties with Poland, Germany strained.

June 14, 2010 05:30
2 minute read.
A banner poster ofMahmoud al-Mabhouh

Mabhouh 311 AP. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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Israel seems to stumble from one crisis to the next these days. As the government continues to reel in the aftermath of the botched raid on the international aid flotilla two weeks ago, it now has a new crisis to deal with – this time with one of its last two remaining friends in Europe: Poland and Germany.

The capture of the so-called Mossad agent Uri Brodsky in Warsaw for allegedly assisting the assassins of Hamas arch-terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai six months ago raises several serious questions regarding the Mossad and its handling of this latest affair.

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First, if the 43-year-old Brodsky is in fact a Mossad agent – as appears to be the case according to the media reports originating in Germany – then why was he flying with a passport for which an international arrest warrant had been issued? Did the Mossad not know that Germany had issued such a warrant, and if not, why not?

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Second, the affair casts a worrisome light on Israel’s relations with Poland and especially with Germany. While those relations have been hailed in recent years as tighter than ever, the arrest of a Mossad agent by Poland and on behalf of Germany could deal a blow to those ties.

The fact that the affair reached the press in and of itself demonstrates a possible failure by Israel, if the Mossad was involved, as foreign reports suggest. In the Mossad there is a branch called Tevel, which is in charge of forging ties with other foreign espionage agencies, such as the CIA in the United States, Poland’s Agencja Wywiadu (AW) and Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst, more commonly referred to as the BND.

According to various media reports, Brodsky, the alleged Mossad spy, was arrested by Polish authorities after he tried entering the country 10 days ago. If true, that is, if the Mossad was involved and its Tevel branch did not succeed during the past ten days in discreetly securing his release, this could mean that something went wrong in the dialogue between the agencies.

In addition, Germany could have easily copied Australia’s and England’s responses to the use of passports in the Mabhouh assassination by expelling the Mossad representative.In England’s case it was reported that, while the Mossad representative was expelled, he has not been declared a persona non grata, which means that one day he may return to London. The fact that Germany decided not to do this but to instead issue an arrest warrant for an Israeli speaks for itself.

All of the above calls for a reexamination of the Mabhouh assassination. While the operation was successful – Mabhouh is dead and no Israeli agents were caught in Dubai – it has caused Israel immense diplomatic damage. It has also revealed some of the techniques used by the Mossad – if the Mossad was in fact behind the assassination – when operating overseas, particularly the way it deploys and disguises its agents as well as its policy of borrowing passports and identities of dual citizens.

If Israel was behind the assassination, it will now have to ask itself whether it was all worth it.

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