Israel 'admits assassinating top PLO commander Abu Jihad'
JERUSALEM - Israel has for the first time admitted assassinating the PLO's former number two, Abu Jihad, in a raid on the movement's Tunis headquarters in 1988, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The report, published in Israel's top-selling Yediot Aharonot, said the operation was planned by the Mossad spy agency and carried out by the Sayeret Matkal commando unit.
Abu Jihad, whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, was shot dead in the early hours of April 16, 1988 in a commando raid on the PLO headquarters by what was presumed to be Israeli agents.
"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, and the operational side was carried out by Sayeret Matkal," the paper said.
The operation was commanded by Nahum Lev who, in an interview before his death in 2000, spoke frankly about his role in the operation although it was never published.
"I had read every page of the file on him," he said. "Abu Jihad was connected to horrific acts against civilians. He was marked for death. I shot him with no hesitation."
A long-time friend and deputy to the veteran leader Yasser Arafat who headed the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Abu Jihad had played a leading role in directing the 1987-1994 intifada uprising against the Israeli occupation.