Top Hezbollah mastermind Samir Kuntar was killed in an airstrike reportedly by Israel, Arab media reported.
Kuntar and eight other Hezbollah operatives were killed in the early Sunday morning strike in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana. Hezbollah confirmed Kuntar’s death, with the Assad regime initially blaming “terrorist groups” for the strike. As per policy, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in the airstrike.
Kuntar, along with a group of commanders from other jihadist groups, were in the midst of planning attacks on Israel. According to reports, Kuntar was assassinated not for his previous actions against Israel but because of future attacks he was planning.
According to Reuters, the building in which Kuntar was residing was “completely destroyed” in the airstrike. The National Defense Forces in Jaramana, loyal to the Assad regime, announced the mourning of Kuntar’s death.
Kuntar made headlines in 1979 when he took part a brutal terror raid from Lebanon into Israel, kidnapping an Israeli family from Nahariya. Kuntar smashed in the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Her father, Danny Haran, and two others were also killed in the attack. At the time, Kuntar was 16-year-old and a member of the Palestine Liberation Front.
For 29 years, Kuntar was imprisoned by Israel but was ultimately exchanged in a swap with Hezbollah for the bodies of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in 2008. Following his release, Kuntar took up a senior position in Hezbollah and helped to organize Syrian Druze and other terror cells along the Golan Heights to carry out attacks against Israel.
Kuntar was previously honored by Syrian President Bashar Assad and former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Roni Haran, the brother of Danny Haran, told Ynet that his family “waited for this moment for seven years, since Kuntar was released from prison.”
Overnight, Israeli airstrikes near Damascus killed 9 Hezbollah officials, including Samir Kuntar. pic.twitter.com/0XKWbs6MTl
— IDF Elite (@idfelite) December 20, 2015
“Samir Kuntar never regretted his actions,” he said, “and there is a small consolation in this, although that doesn’t take away the pain. I hope that this gets the message across that whoever murders Jews in Israel and in the world will end up like Samir Kuntar and the Munich murderers.”
“As it stands, in the Middle East, this seems like the only language they understand,” Haran added.
In July, Arab media reported that Kuntar was killed in an airstrike. The report turned out to be false but five other terrorists were killed in that strike.