According to Arab media on December 20, Israel killed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar when several Israeli Air Force missiles hit the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, leading to the deaths of Kuntar and eight other operatives late during the night of December 19.
During the morning of December 20, Hezbollah confirmed that Kuntar was killed in an Israeli airstrike, and claimed that Israel may have organized the attack with Syrian rebel “terrorists” working in the area. The Assad regime also accused “terrorist groups” of the attack.
“At 10:15 p.m. on Saturday December 19, Zionist warplanes struck a residential building in Jaramana city in Damascus countryside,” Hezbollah said in the statement carried by its Al-Manar news outlet. “The dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons, brother Mujahid Samir Kuntar was martyred along with several Syrian citizens in the strike.”
Although there was no official Israeli confirmation of the attack, Israeli officials voiced satisifaction over Kuntar’s death. Kuntar was with a group of commanders from different terrorist organizations that were there in an attempt to plan attacks on Israel.
Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze, became well known for his role in a vicious 1979 raid from Lebanon when he helped to kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then bashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with the butt of his rifle, killing her. Three other Israelis, including Haran’s father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack. Kuntar, who was 16 at the time of the kidnapping, was a member of the Palestinian Liberation Front.
Kuntar spent 29 years in an Israeli prison, until he was traded to Hezbollah in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. After his release from prison, Kuntar took on a senior role in Hezbollah and was honored by then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and then assisted in organizing Syrian Druze on the Golan Heights and elsewhere into terror cells tasked with carrying out attacks against Israel.
On December 21, thousands of people gathered in a Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, for the Kuntar’s funeral. Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group, has vowed to avenge Kuntar’s death.
Hezbollah supporters walked behind Kuntar’s coffin, which was draped in a yellow Hezbollah flag. Men shouted, “Death to Israel,” while women threw rice and rose petals at the coffin.
“Samir Kuntar was made for Palestine and he died a martyr for it,” Hezbollah’s Executive Assembly chief Hashim Safi Al Din said, according to the Israeli news website Ynet.
“If the Israeli thinks he settled the score with Kuntar’s assassination, then he is wrong. He knows he only set new scores,” Al Din said. “If Israel hasn’t learned from all of its failed attempts to assassinate senior commanders, then it ought to know it committed a new stupid act by assassinating Kuntar.”
Al Din warned that “only days separate us from the Israeli enemy.”
The head of Hezbollah’s foreign media relations, Omar al-Mussawi, said on December 21 that “the Israeli enemy will regret the assassination of Samir Kuntar.”
In response to Kuntar’s death, Lebanon fired four rockets, one of which likely landed in the sea, at northern Israel.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the rockets allegedly landed in areas of the Western Galilee during the evening of December 20. Code Red sirens blared in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya and other surrounding northern Israeli communities before the strikes.
The rockets are believed to have landed in open areas.
The IDF spokesman confirmed during the night of December 20 that the Israel Defense Forces reacted to the attacks with artillery fire on targets in southern Lebanon.
“The Israel Defense Forces have responded with targeted artillery fire following the rockets that hit Israel earlier today from southern Lebanon,” a statement from the army said.
“The IDF considers the Lebanese Army as solely responsible for what is happening in the territory and will continue to act against any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its citizens,” the statement added.