British media have reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally authorised the killing of Hamas commander Al Mabhouh. Image Credit: EPA

Dubai: Links to Israel in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai last month continue to become apparent as investigations here and in Europe reveal details of the operation.

Despite Israel denying any involvement in the murder of top Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh on January 19, bits of information being released by authorities in Dubai and Europe have given weight to claims that Israel was responsible for the assassination.

In the first alleged direct link to Israel, British media have reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally authorised the killing of Al Mabhouh, and that all six of the British passport holders whose identities were used by the assassins had their documents briefly taken away from them by immigration officials at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

The UK's Sunday Times reported that Netanyahu was briefed about the operation in early January at Mossad headquarters, where he approved it. An Israeli source told the paper that while Mossad was aware of the surveillance system in Dubai, its agents were surprised by Dubai Police's ability to gather all the footage in such an efficient manner.

According to the paper, Netanyahu met some of the agents involved in the assassination and told them: "The people of Israel count on you. Good luck."

Dubai Police previously said that it would seek the arrest of Netanyahu and Meir Dagan, the chief of Mossad, if a link to Israel is proven.

The papers reported that the Britons' passports were likely photocopied by immigration officials in Israel to create new documents that were used by the hit squad. The information is believed to have been obtained during debriefings carried out by UK authorities with the Britons whose identities were stolen.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman maintained a policy of ambiguity in response to questions about his country's involvement in the operation, but after mounting pressure from Europe, his deputy Danny Ayalon stated that Israel has "nothing to do" with the operation.

The strongest evidence incriminating Israel in the assassination is however believed to remain with Dubai Police. Police Chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said earlier that he had yet to reveal information gleaned from phone calls made to Austria by the hit squad.

In a phone interview with Gulf News, Lieutenant General Dahi said Austrian authorities had been cooperating "thoroughly" but the United Kingdom "has been taking this most seriously".

Despite European claims that all the passports used in the operation were forged, Dubai authorities have maintained that they were real. German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the only German passport used in the operation was real and recently issued to a Jewish German.

Police have said that Al Mabhouh's death had initially been concluded by the local authorities, Hamas and the victim's family to be the result of natural causes. A subsequent investigation at the insistence of Dubai Police revealed the assassination plot.