March 8, 2010
Posted: 854 GMT
By CNN's Paula Hancocks
The drip feed of information from Dubai’s police chief has kept the assassination of a Hamas leader in his Dubai hotel room on the front pages for about a month and a half.
Every day, without fail, the newspapers in the United Arab Emirates reserve part of the front page for an update, an opinion – even the tiniest hint of fresh information.
This is likely the intention of Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan. By releasing a tidbit here and there, the story stays alive and the international spotlight stays on Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, which Khalfan says he is 100 percent sure is behind the hit.
Local newspapers in the UAE reflect the police line – the question of who else may be responsible for the assassination is absent.
It is a far cry from Israel's media, which has moved on. You are hard pressed to find the story in the newspaper these days – let alone on the front page.
Israeli journalists and columnists have had differing opinions on whether Mossad was responsible or not, or whether it even matters as the end result for Israel is the same: One less Hamas official to worry about.
The drip feed of information is also viewed with suspicion and some ridicule. Ma'ariv newspaper described the Dubai police chief's daily revelations as "tales of 1001 nights" and added of Mossad: "It couldn't be that the oft-praised organization ... is being exposed by an Arab in a keffiya like a figure in an American slapstick movie."
But they do say that any publicity is good publicity and that does appear to be the case for Mossad within Israel. Smart entrepreneurs were quick to react and cashed in on an overwhelming increase in demand for Mossad-related memorabilia.
Eran Davidov, marketing manager of israel-catalog.com, is selling T-shirts with the captions: "Don't mess with the Mossad" and "Mossad's Dubai operation." He said: "This story did something to people, far beyond what we expected."
Rami Igra, a former senior Mossad official tells CNN: "When an event of this kind becomes public knowledge it captures people's imagination, this shows how the Israeli people identify with such a just cause."
And during the recent Jewish holiday of Purim, where the custom is to dress up, there was a new trend in town that copied the security footage released of agents following the Hamas leader before his assassination: Dressing up in tennis gear.
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