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Israel planned to kill Arafat by blowing up Lebanese stadium: report

The plot came about in response to a 1979 attack by Lebanese militants [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 November, 2020

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The assassination plot was called off at the last minute by then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Israel's intelligence agency planned to assasinate Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leaders in the early '80s by blowing up a Lebanese stadium, a new report has revealed.

The covert operation was planned to take place in January 1982 but was ultimately called off by then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Unbeknownst to most Israeli officials, agents were tasked with placing explosives under and around a Beirut stadium.

The damage caused by the planned explosion would have been "unprecedented, even in terms of Lebanon", a former military official told Yedioth Ahronoth.

The secretive unit behind the plan and tasked with carrying out guerilla missions and assasination plots was headed by Meir Dagan, who later became the head of the Mossad intelligence agency.

The plot came about amid anger over the deaths of two young children in a raid perpetrated by Samir Kuntar and three other Lebanese Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) militants.

The PLF members infiltrated Israel in 1979, killing a police officer, and a four-year-old girl and her father in a failed kidnapping attempt.

Israeli authorities accused Kuntar of killing the four-year-old by bashing her head with the butt of his rifle, an allegation rejected by the Lebanese militant. 

The girl's mother accidentally smothered her two-year-old daughter in an attempt to keep the child quiet and hidden from the militants.

After the attack, military chief Rafael Eitan told officials any PLO figures in Lebanon were "fair game", according to the report.

The assasination plot was called off by then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin just hours before it was set to be carried out.

As the head of the PLO and a founding member of the Fatah faction, Arafat was a leading figure in the conflict with Israel before participating in peace negotiations in the '90s.

Arafat served as the first president of the Palestinian Authority after its establishment following the 1994 Oslo Accords.

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