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More than 24 years after Palestinian military leader Khalil Ibrahim Wazir was assassinated in Tunisia, Israel admits to being behind the attack that was carried out by their spy organization also known as Massad.
Khalil Wazir was shot dead in the early hours of April 16, 1988 in a raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s headquarters.
After refusing to confirm Israel’s role in the 1988 assassination publicly, the nation’s military censors on Thursday permitted the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot to publish an interview with the commander who led the secret mission. The article had been kept secret for more than a decade.
“Israel killed the number two man in the PLO, Abu Jihad, in Tunis in 1988, it can now be reported. The intelligence part of the assassination was overseen by the Mossad [Israeli intelligence], and the operational side was carried out by Sayeret Matkal [elite commando unit].” the newspaper said.
Several similar operations have been attributed to Israel over the decades, but Israel rarely takes responsibility. This public acknowledgement gives a rare glimpse into its covert operations.
“I shot him with a long burst of fire. I was careful not to hurt his wife, who had showed up there. He died,” Commando Nahum Lev told Yediot prior to his death in a motorcycle accident in 2000. “Abu Jihad was involved in horrible acts against civilians. He was a dead man walking. I shot him without hesitation.”
Wazir, or more commonly Abu Jihad, was involved in numerous strikes against Israelis, which involved a bus hijacking attack that killed 38 Israelis, and to have organized the 1987 Palestinian uprising, also known as the first Intifada, from his base in Tunisia.
The killing was condemned by the United States and international community , but was widely believed to have been carried out by Israel at the time of the attacks.