Amateurs Who Live in the Past

The world today is digital, computerized and connected to the media, with everything filmed - and those facts were apparently not taken into account by the Mossad.

Until the beginning of the week, it sounded like a great success - entering an Arab country in secret, liquidating a well-known terrorist, and leaving quietly. No one has taken responsibility for the assassination but, according to foreign sources, we are talking about the Mossad (and this will be the assumption, whether correct or not, throughout this piece). The initial result was applause for the sophisticated Mossad, which had acted at the highest level possible.

But then the Dubai police produced the best detective thriller in town - a full-length feature film with clear photographs of the anonymous actors. Thus it transpired that the super-professional Mossad, which supposedly acts like a sophisticated high-tech organization, is nothing more than an outdated agency that acts with worrisome amateurism.

The planners of the operation did not take into account that technology has advanced swiftly in the past few years. Once upon a time, in the analog world, it was sufficient to fake a passport, glue on a beard and dress up like a tennis player with a baseball cap. That's what is written in spy novels. But the world today is digital, computerized and connected to the media, with everything filmed - and those facts were apparently not taken into account by the Mossad.

It is therefore amusing to hear how the Dubai police have been praised for their success in solving the mystery. Would it have been possible to not succeed? After all, the large hit team left behind so many clues it would've been impossible for even a blind detective not to find them.

They arrived in Dubai a short while before the murder, making it easy to recognize them from the incoming flights. They handed over their passports to be scanned at the airport and their faces were photographed. After that, they used the same passports to register at their hotels. Is there any difficulty in identifying them at every spot en route?

Later on, the Dubai police sifted through the large number of security cameras installed at the airport and at various hotels. And if anyone says it's impossible to avoid security cameras, why did they decide to stay at the big hotels in the center of the city? Are there no other accommodations where they would be slightly less conspicuous?

During the operation, the members of the hit team spoke with one another on cellular phones - and everyone knows that a cellular device is like a detection device. It reports every few minutes where the speaker is located, and every call from it is registered. To top it all off, they all left the hotel at the same time, immediately after the assassination had been carried out, making it quite easy to trace them on their departing flights.

And if someone nevertheless would have thought we were referring to another spy organization and not the Mossad, the group took pains to prevent such a possibility by stealing the identity of seven living Israelis, who have since been left astounded.

This is why the Dubai police does not deserve a medal. It was handed the solution to the mystery on a platter, by amateurs. After all, what chance does an old-fashioned disguise and glued-on beard have when up against advanced telecommunications and digital cameras?

Paul Keeley, a British immigrant who today lives on Kibbutz Nahsholim, could not believe what was happening to him. He has been in Israel for 15 years already, but continues to hold a British passport along with his Israeli citizenship. "I have been walking around like a zombie since finding out they used my identity," he said. "What I'm experiencing is a terrible nightmare - I fear for my life." That sentiment holds true for the six others whose identities were stolen.

A series of crimes of forgery and invasion of privacy, as well as a serous violation of every citizen's right to security and freedom of movement, has taken place. Will these seven people ever be able to travel abroad again? Was the violation of their rights not too high a price to pay? Do none of us have protection against the violation of our privacy by the Mossad?

We have to hope that the Mossad does not view every citizen of this country as if they have joined its ranks. This is reminiscent of the apocalyptic prophesy by Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who said the continuation of the occupation and the wars would turn all of us into Shin Bet security service operatives. Today it is members of the Mossad.

The big question is whether the prime minister, who is responsible for the Mossad, took into account both the profits and losses involved when he gave the go-ahead for the operation. Because it's already clear that the damages caused by the operation are greater than its advantages. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh will be replaced by another Hamas leader, perhaps more cruel than he. But 11 people (and perhaps more) from the Mossad's hit team can no longer work abroad. Moreover, the methods used by the Mossad have also been exposed.

Dubai, a moderate country, will not be keen to continue any kind of ties with Israel, and no one will envy the Israeli businessman who needs to travel there in the near future. Ireland has approached Britain, France and Germany to cooperate in investigating the affair. The Israeli ambassadors in Britain and Ireland were called to the foreign ministries for clarification. The British prime minister has ordered a thorough investigation of the affair. People in Europe do not like it when a foreign organization endangers the well-being of their citizens. It is also clear that Israel's status in European public opinion has been damaged; to them Israel appears to be a country without restraints, that breaks the law.

This is how the big success story turned into a resounding failure. This is how the all-powerful Mossad has turned into an amateurish organization that lives in the past.