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Dubai Bans Israelis, Even Those With Alternate Passports

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Following the assassination of a Hamas operative, Dubai police will use voice and face profiling to detect Israelis arriving on foreign passports, the police chief said Monday.

Israelis have always been forbidden from traveling to the United Arab Emirates on their passports, but dual-nationals could use their alternative passport to enter the country.

Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said that now travelers suspected of being Israeli will not be allowed into the Gulf country even if they arrive on another passport. The Emirates will "deny entry to anyone suspected of having Israeli citizenship," Tamim said. Dual nationality is fairly common in Israel.

The move follows the killing of a senior Hamas operative in Dubai, blamed by the Emirates authorities on Israel's Mossad spy agency.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in a Dubai hotel room Jan. 20. The authorities have identified at least 26 suspects of the alleged hit squad that traveled to Dubai on fake identities and forged European and Australian passports to kill al-Mabhouh.

At least 15 of the suspected killers share names with Israeli citizens, further fueling suspicions the Mossad was behind the hit.

"It is disgraceful how the killers abused European (and other) passports and UAE soil to assassinate," Tamim told reporters at the sidelines of a security conference in Abu Dhabi.

"We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have," Tamim said.

He did not explain what procedures would be used to identify the Israeli visitors, except that the police will "develop skills" to recognize Israelis by "physical features and the way they speak."

It was also unclear if the measure would apply to Israeli athletes competing in international sports events in the Emirates and how it could affect Israel's participation in international meetings here.

Last month, Israel's Shahar Peer was allowed to play in a Dubai tennis tournament, a year after the event's organizers were fined $300,000 for denying her a visa to participate in the international tournament citing security concerns.

Earlier this year an Israeli cabinet minister was allowed into the Emirates for the first time to attend a conference on alternative energy in Abu Dhabi, where International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is based. The agency's activities have to be open to Israel because it is a member state.

Many Israelis hold passports of other countries, allowing them to travel to states that have no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, including all Arab countries, save Egypt and Jordan.

Dubai authorities have described al-Mabhouh's assassination as a mix of clockwork precision with spy novel flare. Some of the suspects donned fake beards or wigs, while others disguised themselves as tourists in tennis outfits with rackets in hand.

The police released a detailed flow chart-style diagram on the suspects' alleged roles in the slaying, and distributed a map showing the numbers of 17 credit cards allegedly obtained by the suspects from financial institutions in Germany, Britain and the U.S.

On Sunday, Dubai police said al-Mahbouh's assassins used a powerful muscle relaxant to incapacitate him before suffocating him in his hotel room. The drug found in al-Mabhouh's bloodstream is known as succinylcholine and is frequently used by doctors to administer a breathing tube or anesthesia.

Dubai police said the assassins stuck a syringe into al-Mabhouh's thigh to administer the drug and then suffocated him with a pillow.

Israel has maintained a policy of ambiguity on the killing, neither confirming or denying involvement.

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