Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Dubai to screen Israeli arrivals

Dubai's police chief Lt Gen Dahi Khaflan Tamim
Dubai's police chief did not specify what measures would be used to identify Israelis

Dubai will use stricter screening measures before admitting Israeli dual citizenship holders into the country, its police chief said.

Israeli citizens are banned from travelling to the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai.

But dual nationals can use alternative passports to enter the country. Many Israelis hold dual nationality.

The move follows the assassination of a Hamas commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai on 20 January.

The Israeli secret service has been implicated in the killing, though Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Dubai's police chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim said that in future, the UAE would "deny entry to anyone suspected of having Israeli citizenship".

"Earlier, Israeli dual citizens could easily enter the country even if officials recognised them as Israelis from their accents and traits. But from now on they will be carefully scrutinised, regardless of what passport they hold," he said.

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

Speaking at a security conference on Monday Lt Gen Tamim said, "Israel must not carry out its assassinations on our land. When it has a conflict with another country, Israel should deal with it on their land or the other country's but not here on our land."

"It is disgraceful how the killers abused European and other passports and UAE soil to assassinate", he added.

'Develop skills'

Lt Gen Tamim did not expand on which specific measures would be used to identify Israeli travellers. But the police chief said that security forces would "develop skills" to recognise Israelis by "physical features and the way they speak".

It is unclear whether the screening would also apply to Israeli athletes and officials attending events in the UAE. Last month Israel's Shahar Peer played in a tennis tournament in Dubai.

Many Israelis hold dual nationality, allowing them to travel to countries without diplomatic relations with Israel. This includes all Arab countries except Egypt and Jordan.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 50, was the founder of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas and was reportedly involved in weapons procurement.

He was found dead in a Dubai hotel room on 20 January. On Sunday Dubai officials said that Mr Mabhouh's killers used a quick-acting muscle relaxant to help make the death appear "natural".

Dubai has identified 26 suspects in the murder and said they used British, Irish, French and Australian passports. The countries say the passports used by the murder suspects were forged.

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