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Israel confirms killing Arafat deputy in 1988

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Khalil Al-WazirLifting a nearly 25-year veil of secrecy, Israel acknowledged Thursday that it killed the deputy of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a 1988 seaborne raid in Tunisia.

Two of those involved in the operation now hold high political office - Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon. At the time, Barak was deputy military chief, and Yaalon was head of the Sayeret Matkal unit. Their precise roles in the operation were not divulged, and both men's offices declined comment.

Israel has long been suspected of assassinating Khalil al-Wazir, who was better known by his nom de guerre Abu Jihad. But only now has the country's military censor cleared the Yediot Ahronot daily to publish the information, including an interview with the commando who killed him, at least 12 years after the newspaper obtained the information.

"I shot him with a long burst of fire," the now-deceased commando Nahum Lev told Yediot. "I was careful not to hurt his wife, who had showed up there. He died," 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."


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