On Sunday morning, Arab media outlets reported that Israeli forces launched a missile strike that killed Samir Kuntar, a senior Hezbollah leader, and several others in Syria.
Following the reports, Hezbollah released a characteristically bellicose statement confirming his death:
At 10:15 p.m. on Saturday December 19, Zionist warplanes struck a residential building in Jaramana city in Damascus countryside. The dean of liberated detainees from Israeli prisons, brother Mujahid Samir Kuntar was martyred along with several Syrian citizens in the strike.
While Israel did not take responsibility for the strikes, several Israeli government officials and former military officers let it be known they were not sad to learn of Kuntar’s untimely demise. “It is good that people like Samir Kuntar will not be part of our world,” one member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet told Israel Radio.
Hours after the episode, Israeli media reported that at least three missiles fired from Lebanon landed in northern Israel, causing no damages or injuries. The projectiles landed near the Israeli city of Nahariya, which is meaningful in the context of Kuntar’s violent legacy.
In 1979, Kuntar led a raid in which he and a group of attackers infiltrated Israel from Lebanon, killed an Israeli police officer, and then kidnapped Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter from their Nahariya home. As Israeli troops bore down on them, Kuntar executed the two on a beach. Haran’s two-year-old daughter also died when his wife, Smadar, accidentally smothered her while trying to stifle her cries from the crawlspace where they were hiding. (On Sunday, more than 45 years later, Smadar Haran called Kuntar’s death “historic justice.”)