- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 24 (UPI) — Israel's former ambassador to Britain, Shlomo Argov, whose attempted assassination sparked Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, has died, the Foreign Ministry announced.

Argov, shot when he was 52 years old, has been confined to a hospital since he was attacked nearly 21 years ago. Argov died Sunday in Jerusalem.

A Palestinian militant shot and critically wounded Argov on June 3, 1982, as he left a London reception attended by 84 ambassadors. A bullet lodged in his head and paralyzed him. He never recovered.

"He needed constant care. He couldn't do anything on his own," Victor Harel, a Foreign Ministry deputy director general recalled Sunday.

Some 10 years ago Argov's daughter, Judy, said in a television interview "a person should not be allowed to suffer like this for so many years."

The assailants — one who was caught at the scene and three accomplices arrested later by Scotland Yard — belonged to a Palestinian group Fatah Revolutionary Council, which is better known as the Abu Nidal organization.

The attempted assassination played into the hands of the then Prime Minister Menahem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, the current prime minister. Both wanted to invade Lebanon and attack the Palestinian Liberation Organization that controlled parts of that country. PLO leader Yasser Arafat was based in West Beirut.

Abu Nidal's group was hostile to Arafat and attacked Palestinians it considered too moderate, but Begin brushed aside an offered report on the Abu Nidal group, according to a book by two of Israel's most prominent journalists Zeev Schiff and Ehud Yaari. "They're all PLO," Begin was quoted as having said, referring to the shooting suspects.

Several Israeli divisions moved to Beirut. Arafat and his troops were forced out of Lebanon. However a massacre of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Chatilla, by Israel's local ally, the Christian Phalange, forced Israel out of West Beirut. The Israelis completed their withdrawal from Lebanon only in May 2000.

In tacit criticism of the Lebanon War, Argov's wife, Hava, said in 1985: "I wouldn't want to think for a moment that what happened to Shlomo could have caused the death of so many boys."

In the first three years after his injury, Argov was able to communicate with visitors in several languages, and bitterly lamented his condition, Harel said. Gradually his condition deteriorated. His wife died last May. A son and two daughters survive him.





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