(7 May 2012) BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BAR REFAELI
The brazen 2010 assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai remains shrouded in mystery, but an upcoming film is offering its own comedic interpretation of the movie-like events, complete with a gang of small-time crooks and a sly seductress played by Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
"Kidon," ("The Spear") is a spy flick with a humorous twist that sees the criminals cunningly murder Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in an attempt to frame Israel's Mossad spy agency.
Dubai police accused the Mossad of carrying out the hit, but never proved it. Israel and the Mossad never openly discuss such operations, meaning the case remains unsolved and open for creative interpretation.
Emmanuel Nakash, the movie's French-Israeli director, says that it's his take on the al-Mabhouh story.
"Kidon" is the supposed name of the Mossad's assassination unit.
Refaeli plays Einav Schwartz, an Israeli temptress whose role is to lure al-Mabhouh into the assassins' trap.
For the film, a glitzy hotel in the Israeli resort city of Eilat provided the set for the recreated scene of the crime in Dubai.
The characters are all fictional, except for al-Mabhouh - a Hamas leader in exile who helped smuggle weapons to militants in the Gaza Strip and who was wanted for capturing and killing two Israeli soldiers in the late 1980s.
In one scene, Refaeli, decked out in a revealing leopard-print dress and seductively flipping her blonde hair, catches al-Mabhouh's eye by the hotel bar. Unable to resist her, he takes the bait. He orders a drink, they have a chat and then slink out of the bar together, the hotel surveillance cameras filming them as they go.
Refaeli, best known for gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition and being the former long-time girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio, has made the crossover from modeling to acting before.
In an interview, she said the move is giving her a taste of a job she really wants: working as an agent for Israel's notorious spy agency.
"That's my secret life dream, I would love to be in the Mossad and maybe I am, who knows. I think that being like a famous model is the best alternate...what would you call it - cover," Refaeli joked.
It's unclear if the Dubai plot was as sultry as this one, although at least two women, including a blonde, are believed to have participated.
In the Dubai killing, the hit team entered the Persian Gulf city undetected on foreign passports and pulled off the highly complex killing in a five-star hotel. Somehow the killers escaped unscathed, despite being captured on security cameras around the hotel.
Using that footage, Dubai police outlined a 19-hour operation, where the agents, wearing disguises such as fake beards, wigs and tennis attire, kept close watch on al-Mabhouh, prowling the elevator and hallways near his room before killing him.
Forensic tests indicated he was first injected in the thigh with a fast-acting, hard to detect muscle relaxant. Then he was suffocated with a pillow, Dubai police said.
The hitmen left few traces. The photos on the assassins' doctored passports were released by Dubai police and published worldwide, as were their 26 aliases. More than half of the names turned out to belong to real-life dual nationals living in Israel, some of whom claimed their identities had been stolen.
Several of Israel's important allies, including Britain, Ireland and Australia, expressed displeasure with the killing and the abuse of their passports, but the diplomatic fallout was largely contained.
On the set at the Eilat hotel, extras wearing traditional Arab garb strolled around the lavish lobby speaking to each other in Hebrew as others, dressed as heavily made-up cocktail waitresses, looked bored between takes.
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