For the first time, Israel acknowledged that it was behind the killing of Abu Jihad, the PLO’s number two and cofounder, at his home in Tunis in April 1988.
Yedioth Ahronoth investigative reporter Ronen Bergman’s interview with Nahum Lev, the commander of the operation and the officer who killed Abu Jihad, was cleared for publication Thursday after being blocked by the military censor for more than a decade. The interview was conducted prior to Lev’s death from a car accident in August 2000. In allowing its publication, Israel essentially confirmed the open secret that it carried out the operation.
Abu Jihad (“father of the struggle”), whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, was deemed a potent security threat. He was the mastermind of the infamous Coastal Road massacre, a 1978 attack on an Israeli bus near Tel Aviv that killed 38 Israelis and wounded another 70, and numerous other terror attacks on Israeli targets in the 1970s and 1980s. As military commander of Fatah, he unified fragmented factions of the PLO from his base in Tunis, and was accused by Israel of directing an escalation of violence against Israel in the territories after the first intifada uprising erupted in the territories 1987.
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