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Oz warns Israel over use of its passports in Hamas murder

An angry Australia warned Israel of a possible damage to its ties with the Jewish state if evidence was found that Tel Aviv was involved in forging Australian passports to murder Hamas commander.

Written by Agencies | Melbourne |
February 25, 2010 8:58:58 am

An angry Australia on Thursday warned Israel of a possible damage to its ties with the Jewish state if evidence was found that Tel Aviv was involved in forging Australian passports to murder a top Hamas commander in Dubai.

Australian Foreign Ministry Office today summoned Israeli ambassador and asked the envoy to explain how its three passports were used by suspected Mossad assassins to kill Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month.

“I’ve made it crystal clear to the (Israeli) ambassador that if the results of that investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials,then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Australia “will not be silent on the matter”.

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“If Australian passports are being used or forged by any state,let alone for the purpose of assassination,this is of the deepest concern and we are getting to the bottom of this now,” Rudd told public broadcaster ABC.

“We will not leave a single stone unturned.” Dubai Police has said that three Australian passport- holders were among 15 new suspects linked to January 20 murder of Hamas leader Mahmud al-Mabhouh in a hotel in Gulf Emirate.

Smith said that the Australian Government expected full cooperation from Israeli officials.

“I also indicated to him that if we didn’t receive that cooperation then we would potentially draw adverse conclusions from that,” Smith said,adding he expected a response from Israel but did not know when that might be.

“The ambassador (Yuval Rotem) undertook to relay my message to Tel Aviv,” he said.

Smith did not confirm whether Australian officials would be going to Israel as part of the investigation,saying that was an operational matter.

Australian passport officials have been in touch with the three Australians. Their passports were all issued in 2003.

Smith said while he was concerned for their welfare,he did not believe there would be any long-term repercussions on their ability to travel.

An Australian Federal Police investigation has begun after Dubai authorities revealed that the killing was almost certainly an Israeli hit and three suspected members of the assassination squad were travelling on Australian passports under the names of Adam Marcus Korman,Joshua Daniel Bruce and Nicole Sandra McCabe.

Smith told Parliament that preliminary investigations suggested the three Australians,who all live in Israel,were the victims of identity fraud.

Dubai police have now named a total of 26 suspects in the killing and have released more information about their movements at the time of the assassination.

Meanwhile,according to an AAP report,mother of Joshua Daniel Bruce,linked to the assassination,said the photo in the passport used to name him as a suspect is not his.

His mother Sarah Bruce feared her son,who lives in

Jerusalem,may be the subject of reprisal attacks but hopes people realise he has been the victim of identity theft.

“I am fearful,but hopefully everyone will see that it is fraud. It’s not his photo in the pictures they’re flashing around everywhere,” Sarah said from her Melbourne home.

She also said it wasn’t his date of birth or signature in the Australian passport.

Sarah said she was “totally shocked” when the federal government rang her early this morning to tell her that her son had been linked to the murder.

“Never,never,he’s not that type,” she said.

She said she had spoken briefly to Joshua who had no idea he had been implicated.

“He was unaware of everything that was going on,” she said. Her son has lived for seven years in Jerusalem where he is studying Judaism.

Bruce said she had few details of what the immediate future holds and was waiting for more news from the government.

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