LONDON, March 23 (UPI) -- A member of the Israeli mission to Britain was expelled to protest the cloning of British passports used in the killing of a Hamas leader, officials say.
The expulsion was announced to Parliament Tuesday by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said Israel's "intolerable" misuse of British passports showed a "profound disregard" for British sovereignty, The Times of London reported.
"The fact that this was done by a country which is a friend, with significant diplomatic, cultural, business and personal ties to the (United Kingdom), only adds insult to injury," Miliband said in a statement. "No country or government could stand by in such a situation. I have asked that a member of the Embassy of Israel be withdrawn from the (United Kingdom) as a result of this affair and this is taking place."
Miliband did not identify the expelled person, but sources told The Times that the senior Mossad representative at the Israeli Embassy was told to leave.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of the Hamas terrorist group, was found dead in a hotel room Jan. 19 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai police blamed his death on a hit team from the Israeli spy agency. Investigators said the 26 team members used fake European and Australian passports; 12 of team were traveling on forged British documents. A toxicology report released by Dubai police indicated Mabhouh was injected with a sedative before being suffocated.
Israel said it regretted the British decision.
"The relationship between Israel and Britain is mutually important. We therefore regret the British decision," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.