Israel silent after assassination of key Hezbollah figure in Damascus

Samir Kuntar Israel has refused comment following the death of a senior official of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, who was killed on Saturday in a missile strike in Syria. Samir Kuntar (also spelled Qantar) was a Druze who joined the Syrian-backed, Lebanese-based, Palestine Liberation Front (later Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command) at a young age. In 1979, Kuntar was jailed for an attack on an apartment block in Israel’s northern coastal town of Nahariya, which resulted in the death of four Israeli civilians and two of the attackers. However, he was freed after nearly three decades in prison in exchange for the bodies of two Israel Defense Force soldiers, who had been captured and executed by Hezbollah in 2006.

Since his high-profile release, Kuntar was believed to have risen in the ranks of Hezbollah, and to have become a major operational figure in the Lebanese militant group. In September of this year, the United States Department of State officially designated Kuntar a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. This designation, under US Executive Order 13224, denoted that Kuntar posed a significant and immediate terrorist threat to American interests. A statement issued by the US State Department at the time described Kuntar as one of Hezbollah’s “most visible and popular spokesmen”, and said he also had an operational role in the organization.

Kuntar was reportedly killed alongside eight other people when a barrage of missiles hit a residential building in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana. A statement by Hezbollah-controlled television station Al-Manar said four long-range missiles were fired by two “Israeli warplanes” that appeared to target the residential building. Based on footage aired by Al-Manar, the multi-story building appears completely destroyed. Moreover, at least one other Hezbollah senior commander, Farhan al-Shaalan, is said to have died in the strike.

Although Hezbollah officially accused “the Zionist entity” for the missile strikes, Israel has refused comment on Kuntar’s killing. When asked for a response by reporters on Sunday morning, Israeli Minister for Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant said he was happy that Kuntar was dead, but stopped short of confirming that Israel was behind the killing.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 21 December 2015 | Permalink

3 Responses to Israel silent after assassination of key Hezbollah figure in Damascus

  1. TFH says:

    I remember a scholarly report discussed here a few years ago that explained why assassinating top figures of e.g. Hezbollah did not work, I think the main argument was that such assassinations only serve to radicalized groups even further, that is to say that the one who takes over the post of the one killed will allways be more agressive, more radical. Never more moderate or likely to make peace. I can’t find it or the link to it from this blog right now but it was an interesting and convincing read.

  2. Jay says:

    In response to response by TFH: In some cases, a more radical person may assume the reigns of power in an organization, but we err, extremely, when we think that taking effective, deadly measures against those who are sworn to kill us, will CAUSE more violence against us. It is like the ridiculous suggestion being put forth in some US political quarters that statements by one Republican political candidate in the US which call for diligence against Muslims, will increase ISIS attacks on Americans. ISIS is already sworn to US destruction and calls for random attacks on innocent US civilians. It will not call for any more, or any less, because we declare one thing or another related to Muslims or ISIS. They want us dead, and the only thing that will change that is their completing the task (of murdering us), or their destruction (by us, and others). So it is with Hezbollah. They have sworn themselves to the destruction of Israel. That will not increase nor decrease when/if Israel destroys higher echelons of their leadership. In fact, it may make them Hezbollah, for a time, LESS effective at terrorism, due to loss of key leaders. That can only mean good things for the potential innocent victims of Hezbollah violence. The possibility that such attacks on Hezbollah (or vigilance aimed at Muslims, as in the recent US case) may create more sympathizers with the affected terrorist organization, is real. But to be clear on the Hezbollah case: Hezbollah is bent on the destruction of Israel, and the murder of innocent Israeli citizens. How does that get worse?

  3. TFH says:

    Jay: I recommend you watch the documentary “The Gatekeepers.” Six former heads of Shin Bet explains my point better than I can.

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