Even as he claims to be ready for peace with Israel, Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday awarded notorious Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar Syria's highest honor.
Assad bestowed upon Kuntar the Syrian Order of Merit to reward the latter for his brutal 1979 attack on the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, during which he executed a young Israeli father in front of his 4-year-old daughter and then crushed the girl's skull with the butt of his rifle.
Following his hero's welcome in Damascus, Kuntar traveled to the Israel-Syria border to address Druze residents of the Golan Heights who gathered on a hilltop on the Israeli side of the frontier.
Kuntar is himself Druze, and vowed to his co-religionists that one day soon the Syrian flag would again fly over the Golan.
While the Druze of northern Israel have long been loyal citizens of the State of Israel, the 18,000 Druze that inhabit the Golan have largely maintained allegiance to Syria. Many have done so out of a fear that Israel would eventually surrender the territory as part of the land-for-peace process.