Heard the one about the hit-squad tennis players?

Yesterday the Times columnist Melanie Reid gushed that the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai was like the film Ocean's 11. (I think, by the way, she meant an exciting Hollywood crime caper … as opposed to a useless star-vehicle turkey).

The Guardian reports that yesterday the Israeli embassy tweeted (@israeluk) the following message: “You heard it here first: Israeli tennis player carries out hit on #Dubai target”.

Er, what’s this all about? Is it a – bizarre and startling – admission that, after all, Mossad had carried out the Al-Mabhouh killing? Actually no, because those that clicked through to the link in the tweet were in fact connected to a story about how an Israeli tennis player had won her match in a tennis tournament in Dubai.

Ah. See what they did there? It was … a joke. Geddit? It’s the Israeli embassy having a bit of fun over those CCTV images of some of the Dubai hotel hit squad wearing tennis gear.

So, on the day that Israel’s ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor was formally invited to the Foreign Office to explain what he might know about the killing of Al-Mabhouh, his own embassy office appears to be finding the whole business highly amusing. (Perhaps the office was also handing round the Reid article and revelling in the Brad Pitt-George Clooney comparisons? Ha, ha, ha.)

I’ve noted before that Ron Prosor has a whimsical side to his character, but this strikes all the wrong notes to me. (The Jewish Chronicle reports, by the way, that the tweet has since been removed). Forgive me for conforming to the supposed stereotype of being a “dour” human rights activist, but isn’t the killing of people usually a serious matter?

Instead of splitting our sides over tennis jokes, maybe we should be at least a little concerned at the possibility of state-sanctioned extra-judicial executions? William Hague (almost) condemned the killing yesterday on the radio and then became becalmed by the simple question: would he also condemn extra-judicial killings if carried out by US forces in drone missile attacks in Pakistan? He wouldn’t do this.

Imagine instead of Dubai that we were talking about an Iranian hit squad killing a person on UK soil (as reportedly nearly happened to comedienne Shappi Khorsandi’s father in the 1980s). There would, quite rightly, be outrage. Maybe a little consistency wouldn’t go amiss.

So, death squads, eh? Hilarious, aren’t they? Ha bloody ha.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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