Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday made clear that his pardoning of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in the framework of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizballah did not constitute forgiveness of the brutal killer.
In his official letter to Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz ordering that Kuntar be pardoned, Peres wrote, "I should like to emphasize what is self-evident - that this decision in no way constitutes forgiveness to the murderer for his abominable and reprehensible crimes. I neither forget nor forgive."
Kuntar is being returned to Lebanon where he will be celebrated as a "war hero" 29 years after he infiltrated northern Israel with a team of Palestinian terrorists. During the operation, Kuntar personally executed a young Israeli father and his four-year-old daughter. An Israeli police officer was also shot dead by the terrorists.
The decision to include Kuntar in the prisoner exchange, in which Israel received the corpses of two soldiers abducted by Hizballah in 2006, was highly controversial in Israel. However, Peres and the rest of the Israeli leadership insisted that the painful concession was necessary to secure the return of the missing soldiers.