Israel confirms killing Arafat deputy in 1988

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JERUSALEM — Lifting a nearly 25-year veil of secrecy, Israel acknowledged today that it killed the deputy of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a 1988 seaborne raid on 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.

Abu Jihad founded the Palestine Liberation Organization with Arafat and was blamed for a series of deadly attacks against Israelis.

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