WASHINGTON - Israel tried numerous times to assassinate Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat over the course of years, an Israeli journalist claimedWednesday, according to international media outlets.
In his new book calledRise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,investigative journalist Ronen Bergman asserts that Israeli authorities called off a bid to shoot down a plane after the realisation that Arafat was not travelling in it.
According to Bergman, theIsraeli military had kept on alertfour F-16s and F-15s fighter jets from November 1982 to January 1983 if Arafat was spotted and urgent action needed.
"At least five times, [the jets were ordered] to intercept and destroy airliners believed to be carrying Arafat, only to be called back soon after takeoff," Bergman wrote in the New York Times <link> .
Of these instances, there was one where the Israeli jets closed in on a commercial aircraft "traveling from Amman to Tunisia before they were pulled off the mission", Haaretz reported <link> .
On another, they disrupted a Boeing 707's communications.
Nevertheless, they had to turn back each time due to the non-presence of the Palestinian leader.
Bergman penned in the NYT that another staged operation saw Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad "taking advantage of lax security at the Athens airport, [whereagents] waited for Arafat in the area where private planes were parked".
In yet another bid, an Israeli intelligence agencyteam followed Uri Avnery — a noted journalist and activist — when he flewto Lebanon for an interview with Arafat, where they intended to kill the Palestinian leader.
The narration turns even more shocking when Bergman mentioned that agents were ordered to take out Arafat even it meant losing a few Israeli lives.
Yet, Arafat took a different route using his sixth sense and acumen and managed to stay safe.
Israeli authorities had believed that assassinating Arafat would destabilise the Palestinian cause, resulting in its elimination, but they eventually failed.