Relatives of a slain Hamas operative seek to block the release of a movie being made in Israel about his 2010 assassination in a Dubai luxury hotel, a family member said Sunday.
The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was widely blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency, which never confirmed or denied involvement. Israeli defense officials have alleged that he played a role in smuggling weapons from Iran to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The movie, which features Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli as a temptress working for the hit team, is a "Zionist conspiracy" to defame Mabhouh, said a cousin, Ahmed, who lives in Gaza. Details of the suit, including where to file it, are still being worked out, he said.
Faik, al-Mabhouh's younger brother, who was a security prisoner for 15 years and currently resides in Gaza, told Haaretz on Monday that the film attempts to slander his brother's name, turning him from a freedom fighter into a womanizer, and thus portraying him in such a way that insults him and his struggle for the freedom and independence of the Palestinian people.
According to Faik al-Mabhouh, his family does not oppose the production of a documentary or a feature film that correctly presents the facts, however according to the details known to him and the debated film script, there is no connection between his brother and his actions for the betterment of the Palestinian nation.
He also said the family is currently consulting French lawmakers in order to file a suit.
"I spoke to the director and told him that we have no intention of coming to terms with such a film script and that we would even sue him and the producers, since this is a matter of slander and libel. It is saddening that the actors and director agree to such a thing and it hurts even more that the person playing the role of my brother in a way that slanders his name is an Israeli-Arab Palestinian actor from Umm al-Fahm. I know that my brother's character was not well received among the Israelis, but he is no longer alive and the dead should at least be respected."
Faik al-Mabhouh also said he approached Hamas, along with other Palestinian officials, and requested they take all necessary actions to prevent the movie from being screened.
The movie's producer, Micha Scharfstein, said the movie takes artistic license and is not meant to be factual.
"Mabhouh, from our point of view, was a murderer with blood on his hands, and I don't see any reason not to do a movie about it," he said. The French-Israeli co-production "Kidon," Hebrew for "spear," is to be released in about six months, he said.
Mabhouh was killed on January 19, 2010 in a Dubai hotel room.
As part of the investigation, Dubai police released hotel camera footage showing the assassination team, wearing disguises, tracking its target. Authorities have said Mabhouh was apparently injected with a muscle relaxant and suffocated with a pillow.
Parts of the movie are now being filmed in the Red Sea resort in Eilat. In a movie plot twist, a gang of criminals murders Mabhouh in an attempt to frame the Mossad.
In one scene, Refaeli catches Mabhouh's eye by the hotel bar. He takes the bait, orders a drink; they have a chat and then leave together, the hotel surveillance cameras filming them as they go.
Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist organization. Its members are not supposed to drink alcohol or take up with women who are not their wives.
Ahmed Mabhouh said the family learned about the movie from the media and hopes to prevent its release. "We consider this movie ... a distortion of our late martyr and reject the Zionist conspiracy against him after his death which everyone knows is a lie," he said.
The $5.2 million film is expected to hit theaters in France and Israel next year.
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