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Monday, November 5, 2012

Tunisian Party to Sue Israel Over Assasination of PLO Operative Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir

Source: YNet News
Roi Kais

An opposition party in Tunisia announced Sunday that it will file suit against Israel over the 1988 assassination of PLO operative Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir, better known as abu-Jihad.

Abu-Jihad was a founding member of Fatah and one of Yasser Arafat's top aides. He was assassinated on April 16, 1988 at his home in Tinus.

The announcement, made by Tunis' Wafa Party, followed a report in Yedioth Ahronoth's weekend magazine, which featured an interview given by IDF Colonel Nahum Lev, in which he confessed to being part of the hit squad that went after abu-Jihad on Tunisian soil.

Original Yedioth Ahronoth report on abu-Jihad's hit

The interview, with senior journalist Ronen Bergman, was given shortly before Lev's death.

In the interview, Lev said he was part of the Sayeret Matkal team tasked with the mission. Sayeret Matkal is the IDF's elite Special Forces unit.

Wafa officials told Tunis' media that the suit will be filed based on the facts mentioned in the report, as well as on the testimony of a former top Tunisian official that argued over the years that the country's now-deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was involved in the hit.

A statement issued by the party said that it is also "Based on an international convention both Israel and Tunisia are part of, by which such assassinations constitute a crime against humanity."

The legal action, however, stands to be presented only before a Tunis court at this point. The party also included Israel's "accomplices" in the lawsuit, but the statement did not elaborate further on their identity.

Tunisia's Wafa Party was formed in July 2012, following the uprising that toppled Ben Ali's regime. It has a national platform based on the principles of the revolution and holds 12 parliament seats.

Israel denied any involvement in the assassination for years, and the interview was cleared for publication by the Military Censor only last week.

Lev, who was killed in a car crash in 2000, further confessed to being one of the officers who fired the kill shot.

In the interview, Lev recounted that night: The unit, its members masked, burst into the house and immediately took out abu-Jihad's bodyguard.

One of the officers stormed the second floor with Lev on his heels. "He fired at abu-Jihad first. He seemed to be holding a gun," Lev recounted.

"Then I fired, a long volley, but I was careful not to hit his wife. He was dead. Other officers confirmed it.

"It couldn’t have been a pleasant sight," Lev continued. "The wife was standing there, wanting to rush to him and staying put just because a soldier had a gun aimed at her, and the rest of us, firing at her husband over and over again. I can't say I wasn’t touched."

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