Israeli and Arab media on Sunday confirmed that an Israeli air strike near Damascus on Saturday night had killed blood-soaked Lebanese arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar, whom Israel released in 2008 as part of a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.
Israel reportedly tried to target Kuntar earlier this year, but failed to eliminate him.
Kuntar has been atop Israel’s most wanted list since his release.
Kuntar was captured and jailed by Israel in 1979 after he led a terrorist infiltration team from Lebanon to the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, where he killed a police officer before dragging Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, Einat, down to the beach and brutally executing them.
Smadar Haran successfully hid from Kuntar and his death squad in their home, but accidentally smothered their other child, two-year-old daughter Yael, in an effort to silence her cries.
His inclusion in the 2008 prisoner swap sparked fierce protest, and the hero’s welcome Kuntar received upon returning to Lebanon only fueled Israeli anger. At the time, then-President Shimon Peres said Kuntar would neither be forgiven nor forgotten, and an unnamed defense official promised that justice would ultimately be served against the unrepentant terrorist.
Smadar Haran told Israeli media that government officials phoned her at 4 AM Sunday morning to let her know that “historic justice” had finally been served to the man who destroyed her family.
The strike was praised by Israeli government and military officials, though none would confirm Israel’s involvement. Kuntar’s elimination was also hailed by Syrian rebel forces, who directly thanked Israel.
“Thank you Israel,” wrote Syrian opposition figure Omar Alzoubi-Daraa on Twitter. “Terrorist Samir Kuntar and Other terrorist Huzbollah leaders have been killed by Israeli raids. What a beautiful job”.
Hezbollah, for which Kuntar worked the past several years, mourned his death and glorified him as a “martyr.”
One interesting aspect of the strike against Kuntar is that Hezbollah is allied with the Syrian regime which is allied with Russia. Due to the heavy Russian military presence in Syria, Israel must coordinate any air strikes with Moscow, meaning the Russians had to have green-lighted Kuntar’s elimination, despite his belonging to an allied force.