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Dr Musa A Keilani: It’s official, they’re killers
November 14, 2012
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Israel has finally and officially admitted a truth that the world had always known. It has lifted more than two decades of secrecy and confirmed that it ordered its spy agency Mossad to carry out the assassination of Palestinian leader Khalil Ibrahim Wazir (Abu Jihad).

Abu Jihad, who contributed in founding the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Fatah Movement with Yasser Arafat, was assassinated in Tunisia in 1988. More than two dozen Israeli commandos from Mossad — officially known as the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations — attacked his heavily guarded home, “including two agents who approached the house posing as a vacationing couple but carrying guns with silencers,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The killing was widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad, although the Israeli leadership refused to confirm or deny the accusations. The international community, including the United States, condemned the illegal assassination.

After refusing for years to publicly confirm Israel’s role in the April 16, 1988, assassination, the country’s military censors on Thursday permitted Yediot Aharonot newspaper to publish an interview with the commander who led the secret mission. The article had reportedly been suppressed by censors for more than a decade.

According to the report, 26 Israeli commandos participated in the attack on Abu Jihad’s heavily guarded home.

The mission’s commander was Nahum Levi, who died in a mysterious motorcycle accident shortly after giving an interview about the operation in 2000 to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, the Los Angeles Times reported,

Levi told Bergman that he and a male soldier dressed as a woman were the pair who posed as vacationers. The first team killed a bodyguard asleep in his car, while other squads entered the home, killing other guards as well as a gardener who got in the way.

“It was too bad about the gardener,” Levi told the journalist. “But in operations like this, you have to ensure that all potential resistance is neutralised.”

Levi said Abu Jihad was found and shot in an upstairs room as his wife stood nearby. The team escaped without suffering any casualties.

In July 1997, the Israeli daily Maariv reported that current Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak led a seaborne command centre that oversaw the assassination of Abu Jihad, who coordinated the start of the 1987-93 Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from his base in Tunis.

The paper said Barak, who was then deputy military chief, coordinated the planning by the Mossad, the army’s intelligence branch, the air force, navy, and the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.

He ran the assassination operation from a command centre on a navy missile boat off the shore of Tunis, Maariv said.

Reports in the US press said at the time that Israel also used jamming devices to immobilise telecommunications in the entire area around Abu Jihad’s home in the Tunisian capital.

The admission about the assassination confirms allegations that Mossad is a lawless paramilitary group, and in fact raises more questions about whether or not Israel also killed Arafat, who died in 2004 of mysterious causes.

Many have alleged that Arafat was poisoned, and laid blame on Israel. Arafat’s body was recently exhumed in order to run tests for traces of polonium, a chemical known to be used in political assassinations.

Many such killings have been attributed to Mossad, including the January 2010 murder of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander.

Mossad agents routinely use forged foreign passports and identity papers.

There is nothing surprising in the Israeli relevation about Abu Jihad, but the timing of the report raises suspicions.

It might indeed be Israel’s way of reminding the world that it is capable of carrying out such operations.

Now that it has been officially confirmed, the international community should intensify efforts to hold Mossad and Israeli leaders accountable for their actions. So far, it is not confirmed who is the target audience of those political signals that Israel is sending following the Sudani Iranian Yarmouk military complex. It cannot be Tehran, who already passed the test of fire and intimidation. Nor can it be to an American politician running for presidency. Most likely, the signals are targeting an Arab country that had frozen its ties with Tel Aviv, either in Cairo or Beirut or some Gulf Emirates.
The author, a former Jordanian ambassador, is the
chief editor of  Al Urdun weekly in Amman

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