By Tammy Obeidallah
Amid the glamour of the world's tallest building, gold bars, man-made islands, casinos and fashion, a man lay dead in his hotel room. Preliminary reports would say he had been suffocated with a pillow; further investigation would determine that he was injected with poison.
Post-mortem photos of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, age 50, told a story the media would not tell: the tip of his nose blackened, red blotches covering his cheeks and jaw and a horrific indentation on one side of his nose testified of torture and a cruel execution.
Most news sources subliminally justified Al-Mabhouh’s murder in Dubai on January 20. He was described only as a “senior Hamas militant,” “founding member of Hamas’ military wing” or even “arch-terrorist.” As someone who was allegedly involved in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers in the 1980s and committed numerous other acts of armed resistance against Israel, he was undoubtedly a menace by western standards.
Al-Mabhouh grew up in the squalor of Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, but had lived in exile in Syria since 1989. He had been the target of two previous assassination attempts: a car bombing and a poisoning. The latter took place in Beirut only six months ago and rendered him unconscious for 30 hours.
The Israeli government issued a statement claiming Al-Mabhouh had traveled to Dubai en route to Iran in order to smuggle weapons back to his native Gaza. Israeli defense officials told the Associated Press that these rockets would be capable of reaching Tel Aviv 40 miles away. Evidently, there have been some major technological advances since Israel’s assault on Gaza last year, as retaliatory rockets fired from Gaza ranged only 25 miles.
While Israel has not officially acknowledged involvement in Al-Mabhouh’s murder, Israeli news agency Inyan Merkazi reported that a four-member squad of Shin Bet and Mossad agents interrogated Al-Mabhouh before executing him.
Whitewashed by western media as “extra-judicial assassinations” or “targeted assassinations,” such acts are tantamount to premeditated murder against anyone suspected of resistance against Israel’s 62-year occupation of Palestine. Al-Mabhouh’s death is the latest of numerous executions carried out by the Mossad and other Israeli government agencies throughout the Jewish State’s existence.
In 1972, the Mossad began a series of assassinations in what was supposed to be retribution for the deaths of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. Thirty-five suspects believed to have been involved in the attack were systematically ambushed throughout Europe and Lebanon. Many had ambiguous ties at best to the Munich operation and in a case of mistaken identity Ahmed Bouchiki, a young Moroccan waiter, was gunned down in Norway. Throughout this and other operations, the Mossad used false passports without the issuing government’s knowledge or approval in what has become a trademark of that organization’s modus operandi.
In 1997, Mossad agents traveled with Canadian passports to Amman, Jordan in a botched attempt on the life of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. In 2004, New Zealand jailed two Mossad agents for six months and imposed diplomatic sanctions against Israel after the pair illegally applied for passports in that country. Authorities in Dubai investigating the murder of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh have confirmed that his killers are traveling on Irish passports.
However, not all Israeli assassinations are clandestine operations.
Fateh co-founder Khalil al-Wazir, known as Abu Jihad, was killed in 1998 at his home in Tunis in front of his family. The 2004 Israeli airstrikes that killed Hamas founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin and subsequently his replacement, Abdelaziz Al-Rantissi also killed Rantissi’s son, his bodyguard and eleven bystanders, including a five year-old child.
Not only are the leaders of armed resistance in the crosshairs of Israeli assassins, but political activists who speak out against the occupation of Palestine as well. Cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, whose brutally honest body of work earned him many powerful enemies, was murdered in cold blood in London on the way to his office. Although Al-Ali was critical of Arab governments and the corruption present in the hierarchy of Palestinian resistance groups, a preponderance of evidence points directly to the Mossad being responsible for his death.
Ten months after Al-Ali was killed, Scotland Yard arrested a student named Ismail Suwan, who turned out to be a Mossad agent. Suwan confessed that his superiors knew of the plot to kill Al-Ali. Upon refusing to cooperate further, Great Britain expelled two Israeli diplomats and closed the Mossad’s London base. Despite all this, no one was ever brought to justice for the crime.
In March 2003, a 23 year-old American college student named Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier while trying to prevent a home demolition in the Gaza Strip. It was learned through Corrie’s own writings that activists with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) had come under fire in the weeks prior to her death while trying to retrieve the body of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces. She told also of how the camp’s water wells were being destroyed by the Israeli military and that members of ISM had slept in front of the wells to deter the attacks.
Clearly the group’s activities were a source of consternation to the Israelis, one of whom took the opportunity to murder a young woman on a clear day in the Rafah refugee camp. Claiming Corrie’s death was “accidental,” he was never punished.
Many have paid the ultimate price for challenging the Israeli juggernaut, no matter what form that challenge has taken. Many individuals who never picked up a weapon have been targeted by the Jewish State. And if Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was attempting to procure weapons, he was simply guilty of trying to help his people defend themselves against Israeli aggression. Only when the western-dominated court of world opinion is no longer content to let Israel act as judge, jury and executioner, will there be justice for occupied Palestine and all the people who met untimely and brutal deaths in her defense.
- Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.