In a detailed feature in US based newspaper, the New York Times, author Ronen Bergman claims that Israel planned several assassination attempts on Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat.
The article reveals that former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon tried several times to assassinate PLO sympathiser, leader Arafat but failed.
The military operation — the targeted assassination of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and enemy of the state of Israel — had been set in motion the previous day by Mossad, Israel’s civilian intelligence agency. Tsomet, the Mossad unit responsible for recruiting and running assets abroad, received reports from two informants inside the PLO that Arafat would take off from Athens the next day in a private plane heading to Cairo. Caesarea, the Mossad unit that handled targeted killings, immediately dispatched two operatives to gather more information. Taking advantage of lax security at the Athens airport, they waited for Arafat in the area where private planes were parked.
Sharon, meanwhile, had been maintaining constant pressure on Lieutenant General Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, for the operation to move forward. The air force put two F-15 fighters on alert for immediate takeoff from the Tel Nof air force base. Ivry, ever cautious, briefed the lead pilot himself. He understood the stakes. It was clear to him how disastrous it would be if Israel shot down the wrong aircraft. “You don’t fire without my OK.,” he told the pilot. “Clear? Even if there’s a communications problem, if you don’t hear my order” — he emphasised that part: hear my order — “you don’t open fire,” the article read.
Ronen Berg further said the attempts that were made were halted at some point or another due to the fear of massive civilian casualties.
Similarly, the former Israeli PM also planned the murder of Arafat and his aides when he was at Beirut stadium busy celebrating, but this was considered disastrous according to Israeli forces because the number of civilians who would have been massacred would have been in hundreds.
Rejecting this plan, from November 1982 till January 1983 Israel planned to send four fighter jets to kill Arafat while he would be in air but the uncertainty of him being or not being on the plane created confusion resulting in the plan being dropped.
It is to be noted that Arafat died on November 11, 2004, at a hospital in Paris at the age of 75 while he was undergoing medical treatment. The cause of death is still under investigation but his wife claims that he was murdered.
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