Diplomatic Row Deepens Over Hamas Leader's Killing

The Irish and British governments summoned the Israeli ambassadors in Dublin and London to question them about the alleged use of fake British and Irish passports by the killers of a Hamas leader in Dubai last month. Israel says there is no proof its agents were involved in the killing.

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants answers. He has ordered an investigation into how six fake British passports were used in a high profile killing. A Hamas commander was found dead in his Dubai hotel room last month. And there is speculation that Israel's Mossad spy agency was involved.

NPR's Rob Gifford reports from London.

ROB GIFFORD: The four countries whose passports were used in the alleged operation - Germany, France, Ireland and Britain - all sought answers today from the Israeli government. The Israeli ambassador in London was summoned to the foreign office and afterwards Foreign Secretary David Miliband made clear his concerns that the identities of six real British passport holders living in Israel had been used on the fake passports.

Mr. DAVID MILIBAND (Foreign Secretary, Great Britain): We wanted to give Israel every opportunity to share with us what it knows about this incident. And we hope and expect that they will cooperate fully with the investigation that has been launched by the prime minister.

GIFFORD: Media in both Europe and the Middle East have been full of speculation about whether Israel's foreign intelligence agency, Mossad, was involved in the operation. Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied involvement, but Mossad has a history of using foreign passports. Meanwhile, the people whose identities were stolen continue to express shock. One of the men, British-born Stephen Hodes, who now lives in Israel, spoke to Israeli television in Hebrew.

(Soundbite of TV show)

Mr. STEPHEN HODES: (Foreign language spoken)

GIFFORD: I was simply shocked and I didn't know what was happening, he said. I haven't left Israel for two years and I've never been to Dubai. Now, I'm just scared, he added. As Interpol placed the initial 11 suspects in the killing on its most wanted list, an official in Dubai told the Associated Press that at least 18 people are now suspected of involvement in the killing.

Rob Gifford, NPR News, London.

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