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Default Hizbollah commander killed in Israeli airstrike in Syria - 12-20-2015, 09:58 AM

Hizbollah commander killed in Israeli airstrike in Syria

Josh Wood
December 20, 2015 Updated: December 20, 2015 05:45 PM

Beirut // A notorious Lebanese militant who spent nearly 30 years in an Israeli prison has been killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Damascus suburb.
Hizbollah’s TV station Al Manar said Samir Kuntar, 53, was killed in the attack on a residential building in Jaramana late on Saturday. Hizbollah said Israeli warplanes hit the building with four missiles at about 10.15pm.
Kuntar spent 29 years in jail for the 1979 murder of a father and his four-year-old daughter on an Israeli beach.
The airstrike showed Israel’s continued commitment to go to great lengths to eliminate their enemies and its willingness to go it alone in bombing pro-government targets in Syria.
When Kuntar was 16 years old, he joined Palestinian Liberation Front militants on a raid in April 1979 that took them by boat from the southern Lebanese city of Tyre to the northern Israeli city of Nahiriya.
After killing a policeman, the group entered an apartment building where Kuntar took a man and his four-year-old daughter hostage. Kuntar marched the pair down to the beach to where the group’s dinghy had landed before executing them. He shot the father in the head and, according to Israel, smashed the young girl’s head on rocks, killing her. Kuntar disputes the Israeli version of events, saying she was killed in crossfire.
On Sunday, Al Manar wrote that Kuntar’s attack was a “heroic operation against Zionists.”
Captured immediately after the killings, Kuntar spent the next 29 years jailed in Israel before he was freed in a swap deal with Hizbollah in 2008. Kuntar was among five Lebanese prisoners Israel traded for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers whose July 2006 abductions sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah.
The release of Kuntar and other prisoners was declared a national holiday in Lebanon and the group was greeted by the country’s president and prime minister. Photos of the celebrations after the release show a jubilant Kuntar, a Druze, wearing a camouflage outfit with a Hizbollah scarf around his shoulders standing alongside Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Over the course of Syria’s civil war, Israel has not shied away from using its air force to hit Hizbollah and Syrian government targets.
The most notable strike came in January when Israeli warplanes killed the son of former Hizbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, an Iranian general and a number of Hizbollah fighters. Hizbollah responded ten days later by targeting an Israeli military convoy across the border with anti-tank missiles, killing two. Israel responded by firing more than 50 artillery shells at southern Lebanon.

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