Twelve years after he died, the words of a fabled IDF commando confirmed what few in the Middle East ever doubted: Israel carried out the hit on arch-terrorist and Fatah founder Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir — aka Abu Jihad — at his Tunis villa in April 1988.
Last week, the IDF censor gave Yediot Aharonot the green light to publish the details of the assault led by the late Colonel Nachum Lev that fateful night. The Yediot story amounted to the first official Israeli confirmation of responsibility for the assassination.
The article, based on a series of phone interviews between Yediot correspondent Ronen Bergman and Lev in 2000, described what happened when the Israeli hit team landed on the beach in Tunis. Together with a commando dressed as a woman, Lev, who posed as the husband, walked up to al-Wazir’s house with a pistol hidden in a box of chocolates. The pair then stormed the house, with one team killing bodyguards and a gardener in the basement while the other team made for the stairwell.
Lev said he followed the team on the stairwell up to a bedroom, where he opened fire on al-Wazir with a long burst.
Al-Wazir is believed to have been responsible for some of the bloodiest terror attacks in the history of Israel, including the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 35 Israeli civilians were killed.
Mr Bergman said this week that he and Yediot had campaigned for six months to convince the IDF censor to allow the story to be published.