Palestinians Seek Transfer of Legendary Military Leaders' Remains From Syria After ISIS Destroys Grave

Israel said it has denied a request to rebury Abu Jihad, the late Yasser Arafat's top strategist, in the West Bank alongside dozens of PLO fighters interred in a cemetery wrecked by ISIS in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Yasser Arafat and his deputy Khalil Wazir, or Abu Jihad (right) pictured in Tunis in 1988.
Yasser Arafat and his deputy Khalil Wazir, or Abu Jihad (right) pictured in Tunis in 1988.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian officials are seeking to transfer the remains of the late Yasser Arafat's late legendary deputy, Abu Jihad, from Syria to the West Bank, along with dozens of other PLO fighters interred in a cemetery destroyed by ISIS in the war-torn country.

Israel has denied the requests.

Abu Jihad, the nom de guerre for Arafat's key strategist, which translates "father of struggle," was assassinated in Tunis in 1988, during the first intifada, in a commando raid blamed on Israel.

Senior Palestinians officials have sought Israel's permission to bring the remains of Abu Jihad, whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, from the Yarmouk refugee camp destroyed by ISIS to the West Bank.

A similar request has been made on behalf of Sa’ad Sa’il, known as Abu al-Walid, who headed the PLO’s military wing, who was also buried in Yarmouk.

Sa’il was assassinated in September 1982 in southern Lebanon and to this day it isn’t clear who killed him.

Both deceased PLO leaders are among dozens of Palestinian fighters buried in the Makbarat el-Shuhada cemetery in Yarmouk. Relatives and officials in the Fatah movement have sought Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' help to transfer their remains out of the war torn country.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories confirmed that it had been approached on the matter by a senior Palestinian official, and that the request was denied.

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