The time plan shows many cancelled flights behind a Lufthansa check-in counter at the airport in the central German city of Frankfurt
EU condemns Dubai killing … Toothless, says Hamas Fifteen fake passports used

BRUSSELS, Feb 22, (Agencies): The European Union condemned on Monday the use of fraudulent EU passports by the killers of a Palestinian militant in Dubai, showing its discontent with Israel without referring to it directly.
In a short statement, which European diplomats said was intended as a rebuke to Israel, EU foreign ministers said after talks in Brussels that the assassination raised “profoundly disturbing” issues and said citizens’ rights were violated.
Dubai has accused Israel of being behind the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Israel has not denied or confirmed it played any role but its foreign minister, visiting Brussels, said there was nothing to link it to the killing.
“The EU strongly condemns the fact that those involved in this action (the assassination) used fraudulent EU member states’ passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens’ identities,” the ministers said.


“The EU welcomes the investigation by the Dubai authorities and calls on all countries to cooperate with it.”
Diplomats said the statement was intended to put pressure on Israel, but no direct reference was made to it because there was no proof Israeli agents carried out the assassination.
The declaration is unlikely to have any long-term repercussions for EU-Israeli ties and Israeli officials have played down the possibility of a full-blown crisis.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip, said the EU statement lacked teeth.
“Condemning the use of (European) passports was insufficient. The statement did not indicate any condemnation of the crime, Mabhouh’s assassination,” he said.
Using Hamas’s term for Israel, he said: “This will tempt the occupation to carry out more crimes of this kind.”


Dubai authorities say at least 11 assassins travelled on forged British, Irish, French and German passports to kill Mabhouh in a hotel on the orders of Israel’s spy agency Mossad.
Mabhouh was involved in smuggling weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip, Hamas has said.
France and Germany have asked Israel for an explanation and President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of France’s “irrevocable condemnation of what is nothing less than an assassination” after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris.
Prosecutors in Cologne are looking into whether one of the men acquired a German passport under a false pretext to engage in spying, and could refer the case to federal prosecutors for investigation, a spokesman said.


Passports
Britain said Monday that a total of eight forged U.K. passports were used in the Dubai slaying of a top Hamas operative, two more than had been previously disclosed.
Europe minister Chris Bryant told the House of Commons the British government has been told by Dubai authorities that two more fraudulent documents have been identified as being tied to the Jan. 20 killing.
The stalking and assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury Dubai hotel has widely been blamed on Israel’s Mossad spy agency, and investigators on several continents are examining the use of bogus European passports and credit cards linked to U.S.-based banks.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he used a meeting Monday in Brussels with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to express “the profound concern that exists not just in Britain, but all over Europe,” over the issue.


Following the talks, Miliband said European foreign ministers are “profoundly disturbed,” by the use of forged British, Irish, French and German passports by a suspected hit squad.
“It’s vital that relations between states are conducted on the basis that is clear and transparent,” Miliband said. “It’s also important to say that Israel — in some ways above all countries — has the most to gain from a Middle East that is based on the rule of law and that’s why I think that it’s right to take these issues to the highest level in Israel.”
Dubai authorities, who have identified 18 suspects in the murder, have said they are virtually certain the Mossad was involved.
Miliband asked Lieberman to ensure Israel cooperates fully with Britain’s Serious and Organized Crime Agency in an investigation into how the identities of British citizens were stolen.
Britain’s Foreign Office declined to provide the identities of those whose passports were used in the latest two cases. Many of those whose details were forged live in Israel, but have not visited Dubai or bear little or no resemblance to the slaying suspects identified by Dubai authorities.
Following disclosure of the latest cases, the number of fake passports tied to the killing is 15 — eight British, five Irish, one French and one German.
Emirates’ foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has urged European nations to investigate how fraudulent passports came to be used by the hit squad.


Assurances
Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said on Monday that Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman gave no “assurances” that Israel was innocent of the assassination of a Hamas chief by killers using fake European passports.
“He did not deny,” Martin told reporters after meeting Lieberman in Brussels when he pressed the Israeli minister to guarantee that the Jewish state had no involvement in the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai in January.
“In fairness, I don’t want that to be construed one way or the other... He said he had checked it out and could find no information about any alleged involvement.”
Martin said he expressed Ireland’s “grave concern about the fraudulent use of passport material,” with five Irish passports — up from the original three — so far known to have been misused in carrying out the assassination.


He said he told Lieberman that the security of Irish citizens had been placed at risk and that the theft, in this case of valid passport numbers, even if not names or photographs or credit cards, “violates the integrity of our passport system.”
Martin underlined: “We did seek assurances or clarifications... (but) he indicated strongly that he had no information whatsoever, and couldn’t provide any additional information in relation to what happened in Dubai.”
Martin said investigations were ongoing, stressing that “we would appreciate assurances, we were requesting assurances there was no such involvement.”
Meanwhile, an Israeli who shares the name of an alleged member of the death squad that killed a top Hamas militant in Dubai has disappeared, an Israeli newspaper reported on Monday.
Up until Saturday the name Michael Bodenheimer could be seen on a sign at at an office building in the seaside Israeli city of Tel Aviv but the plaque has since been taken down, Israel’s mass-selling Yediot Aharonot said.
It published photos of the nameplate to support the claim.
The man has not been been interviewed by media since his name appeared on one of several European passports that Dubai police said were used last month by the killers of Mahmud al-Mabhuh, a Palestinian Hamas commander.


Unlike the other passports, the German passport bearing Bodenheimer’s name was apparently not forged, according to a report Saturday in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.
The passport was delivered in Cologne on June 18, 2009 to an applicant who presented an Israeli passport issued at the end of 2008 and the marriage certificate of his parents, who were persecuted by the Nazis, it said.
Last week Israeli media interviewed another Michael Bodenheimer, an ultra-Orthodox Jew living in another suburb of Tel Aviv, who denied any involvement in the affair.
He also bore no resemblance to the passport photo presented by Dubai police.
The revelation that 11 people involved in the killing had European passports, many of them forged and bearing the names of Israeli citizens, has fueled speculation that Israel’s Mossad spy agency was behind the hit.
Britain, Ireland, France and Germany have all summoned Israeli diplomats over the affair, while senior Israeli officials have refused to discuss the matter in line with tradition.

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