Kuntar marked for death, says Israel

Thursday, July 17, 2008 |  Israel Tody Staff

Lebanese murderer Samir Kuntar one day after his release from an Israeli prison promised to continue on the path of jihad against the Jewish state. Israel said he wouldn't get the opportunity.

Kuntar and the four Hizballah militants released with him attended a special prayer service on Thursday at the graveside of slain Hizballah operational chief Imad Mughniyah, who masterminded an untold number of attacks against Israel and Jewish targets abroad.

Mughniyah was assassinated in a Damascus car bombing in February. Hizballah insists Israel was behind the hit.

Kneeling beside Mughniyeh's tombstone, Kuntar was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "We swear by Allah...to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah bestowed on you."

Kuntar has been the centerpiece of Hizballah-organized celebrations across Lebanon since his release Wednesday morning as part of a prisoner exchange with Israel. Kuntar has become something of a celebrity in Lebanon after spending 29 in an Israeli prison for executing an Israeli father and his four-year-old daughter during a 1979 raid on the coastal town of Nahariya.

An Israeli official who spoke to Israel's Yediot Ahronot on condition of anonymity said that while Israelis viewed Kuntar's freedom with disgust, they could rest easy in the knowledge that he would not enjoy that freedom for very long.

"Samir Kuntar, who was released yesterday in the framework of a prisoner exchange with Hizballah, has become a dead man walking," said the source. "Israel will eliminate him."

In Israeli President Shimon Peres letter pardoning Kuntar he vowed that the killer would neither be forgiven nor forgotten.

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