We’re all thrilled by Mossad the movie

#imag1 Of course we should condemn extrajudicial murder, but I still can’t help admiring Israel’s nerve

Steven Soderbergh, evidently, was only kidding when he said that there would be no Ocean’s 14. He’s plainly been hard at work filming in a hotel in Dubai, as we can see from the trailers running on News at Ten. With Mossad operatives filling in as movie extras.

Now I know we really, really shouldn’t joke about these things. I should be wearing black and have a long face and be uttering pieties about the disgraceful “extrajudicial” killing of the Hamas military chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, apparently by Israeli agents.

All nice people, quite rightly, are adopting the proper moral stance and expressing outrage and disgust at this affront to international law and justice. But the rest of us … well, we simply can’t wait until the movie comes out. Largely thanks to the blurry CCTV pictures, there is an element to the assassination in Dubai that is appallingly irresistible. What the secret agents did — and, critically, what we saw them do — was compelling and breathtaking in its cleverness.

That the agents were using fake identities, one of them being that of Paul Keeley, 42, a bewildered Kent-born odd-job man who was living in Israel, just added to the sense that this was too good to be true. Where were George Clooney and Brad Pitt? To see the images of tubby tennis players bimbling across the hotel lobby and into the lift with the Danny Devito-like figure of Mr al-Mabhouh, and then following him so that they could note down his room number, was to know that this was an incomparable heist; a case of life imitating art imitating life. That it was a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of international espionage makes it all the more seductive.

Now everything I write, of course, is on the understanding that the Israelis refuse to comment on allegations that they are responsible for the killing. But their motive, it is said, is that Mr al-Mabhouh is rumoured to have played a key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to Islamist militants in Gaza, and may have been on his way to Iran. And just because the Israelis haven’t said that they did it doesn’t mean for a minute that they weren’t responsible

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