Israel suddenly announced to everyone, without any logical justification, its responsibility for the assassination of the martyred jihadist “Abu Jihad”, who was considered a key political and military mind behind the Palestinian resistance movement, and one of Fatah’s most effective leaders. An Israeli terrorist commando unit assassinated Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) at his home in Tunis on the 15th April 1987, amidst his family and bodyguards. The commando unit was ferried by rubber boats along the Tunisian coast, under the direction of Ehud Barak, the current Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister.
Six weeks before his assassination, I met with Abu Jihad for the final time in Sidi Bou Said, during a dinner party held at the home of Hakam Balawi, the then Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Tunisia. Several days prior to that I had a lengthy conversation with Abu Jihad at his home, and had lunch with his kind family and wife. Abu Jihad was a real fighter; he did not seek personal pleasures, legitimate or otherwise. His whole life revolved around one goal, to manufacture a Palestinian resistance movement effective and influential in the occupied territories.
Abu Jihad carried a small notebook containing symbols and codes, detailing the weapons stores and caches each member of the armed resistance had access to within Palestine. He was in charge of the funds to finance every element, every cell and every armament. Abu Jihad’s dream was to fully restore the occupied Palestinian territories from the river to the sea through the barrel of a Palestinian gun. Yet the man was a realist; he was aware of the major obstacles that would make the process of liberating territory very expensive if not impossible to achieve, in light of the differing balances of power among the parties of the conflict.
I often asked him: “the road to a liberated Jerusalem is far away, is it not Abu Jihad?” He would respond with his pure and hopeful smile, and repeat his most famous phrase: “We have a right to demand what is lost”. In return, I would say: “This demand, which you seek to recover the right for, must be an armed one”, and he would reply “the force of the Palestinian stone is stronger than the [Israeli nuclear] bombs at the (Dimona) reactor in the Negev desert”.
He was a cluster of hope and resistance walking on two legs.
He was a Palestinian version of General Giap, the commander of the military struggle against the US occupation of Vietnam. In fact, he used to cite the Vietnamese example of resistance against the Americans, saying: “the ant was able to bite the American elephant and hurt it to the extent that it withdrew its troops and weapons and left”.
Abu Jihad had great faith in the Palestinian struggle, despite the geographical difficulties, the occupation obstacles, the arms imbalances, and the weakness of the Arabs and their disintegration.
I could see that he was close to God, never missing a prayer, with the Koran close by, asking for martyrdom.
Today there must be an international trial for his killers after they confessed to their crime. Today we must also say may God have mercy on Abu Jihad.