Israel The War on Terrorism

The Liberation of a Murderer

[digg-reddit-me]On April 22, 1979 a seventeen year old boy, who we will call Charlie for now, was part of a group of four men that raided a small coastal city. A policemen came across Charlie’s group as they approached their target, a large apartment building. They killed him.

Around midnight, the four men stormed the apartment building throwing grenades and firing weapons at anything that moved. In the chaos, Charlie and the one of the other men saw a woman closing the door to her apartment in a panic – they charged after her as she slammed the door shut. The woman was a young mother – with two daughters, aged two and four, and a husband. The husband helped his wife and his youngest daughter hide in a crawl space and was trying to get his older daughter to another space when Charlie broke through the door.

The police began to arrive at the apartment building as Charlie and his accomplice searched the apartment for the woman they had seen. Charlie’s accomplice kept a gun trained on the husband and his daughter as Charlie searched the apartment, shooting at random targets, hoping to scare the woman he had seen out of her hiding place. The woman, fearing her baby daughter would scream or give away their position, kept her hand tightly placed over her baby’s mouth. Knowing that they did not have much time before the police surrounded them, Charlie forced the husband and daughter down to the beach. As Charlie left, the wife noticed her daughter limp in her arms. She had accidentally smothered her to death.

The other men stood keeping watch for the police who were still searching the apartment building, as Charlie prodded the husband and his daughter towards the ocean water. Charlie shot the husband at close range in front of the daughter, and then held the man’s head under the gently breaking waves to make sure he was dead. He grabbed the four year old and threw her on a rock while raising his rifle butt to smash her head. She covered her head, screaming, “Mommy, Daddy, help me!”, thrashing about, hysterical. Charlie managed to pry the girl’s hands away from her head long enough to get in a few blows. Her cries became weak, and he kept pounding her head between the rock and his rifle butt until her skull was completely crushed.

Two of Charlie’s accomplices were killed in a shootout with the police shortly after this. Charlie and another man were captured and put on trial. Charlie was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later admitted to the murders, and expressed pride in them. In his infamy, Charlie became a celebrity. The leader of his cult claimed that this attack was justified in retaliation for a peace treaty signed between the family’s country and a country that was allied with Charlie’s.

Today, almost thirty years later, Charlie has a number of supporters, including some who maintain he is innocent, and others who insist that the murders were justified. His friends and associates are agitating for his release, insisting he be treated as a political prisoner.

I maintain that there is something deeply rotten in any state and in any society that would enable and support behavior like Charlie’s. I don’t think I am going out on a limb here. This is solid ground.

Nothing could justify what Charlie did. Absolutely nothing. If he was a psychopath, one might be able to summon some distant sympathy for his derangement. As a solider, his actions were beyond the pale.

For those reading closely, the sheer irrationality of the response to this situation probably gives away where these events took place. Charlie’s name was Samir Kuntar; he was Lebanese and belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front. His victims, Danny, Einat, and Yael Haran, were Israeli. The wife and mother was named Smadar Haran. She wrote this opinion piece in 2003 in response to a proposed deal in which Samir Kuntar, or Charlie, would be freed. The leader who called for this attack and defended it afterwards was Abu Abbas. The peace treaty the attack was responding to was the Camp David Accords in which Jimmy Carter presided over the cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Israel. Samir Kuntar recently promised to return to jihad, as he described the murders, if he was freed. The current Israeli government has apparently agreed in principle to release him in return for the bodies, or perhaps the lives, of three soldiers who were abducted by Hezbollah last year.


I remember vividly the climactic scene of John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill. The novel tells the story of a racially charged case in which a young black girl is raped and beaten almost to death by two white men. The girl’s father murders the two white men. The hero of the novel, a young attorney defending the father, tells the jury in his closing remarks to close their eyes as they imagine of the rape and beating of a young girl in all of it’s disturbing and graphic details.

And then, after asking the jury to imagine each gruesome detail, he concludes: “Now, imagine that girl was white.”


Sometimes we become so focused on the politics, on the other-ness of others, on the special circumstances that we push aside our instinctive reaction. Perhaps, even, we become so desensitized that we forgot to feel anything at all. There is so much tragedy in the world; there is so much conflict. We cannot be expected to sort through it all.

Every story seems to have two sides. We assume that those committing horrific crimes have some justification. In an age where we gain most of our knowledge through the media, we often see truth as a point equidistant between the two stories competing for our attention. This is a dangerous tendency – and one that demonstrates a lack of imagination. Alternately, many become apathetic or refuse to engage in the struggle to find out the truth and make some stand. This is also dangerous.

We cannot refuse to judge the actions of our fellow beings – for all it takes for evil to succeed is for those who know better to be silent. And we cannot take this responsibility lightly. Before taking a stand, we have a moral responsibility to walk in the shoes of our fellow beings. And then we have a responsibility to take a stand.

This is often a messy business – but it is necessary.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is a thorny one – and I do not believe that there are simple answers. But it is essential when judging the issues and actions involved to see them clearly for what they are. We can and should judge what “Charlie” Kuntar did for what it was – despicable, evil murders. And we should judge the pride he takes in his actions. Finally, we must in some way incorporate the seeming widespread support for Kuntar into our view of the various groups opposing Israel.

Last of all, we should remain aware that after his actions, Kuntar was not summarily executed – but was instead given the right of a trial. He was sentenced according to a judicial procedure and not sentenced to death. He still had rights, and even married in prison. He has been able to publish opinion pieces in the Palestinian press while in prison. This says something very important about Israeli society.

There are many stories to be told on both sides of this issue. But it is important that we grapple with the hard truths rather than settling for the easy symmetry of false analogies. We must struggle to attain some understanding and then act on our best judgments.

In Israeli society, this struggle is ongoing in a way that is almost unimaginable in the mainstream American press. The Israeli newspaper Haartz has editorialized in favor of releasing Kuntar, saying, in a demonstration of just this moral struggle:

Leaders will only end war if they are convinced that their constituents demand it. They will only make peace if they are convinced that families of the living care more about the living than they do about exacting pain on the other side.

Of all the issues in the Mideast thicket, normalization of relations, determination of borders, sovereignty of holy sites, freezing of settlements, the element that receives the least world attention is that of prisoners. Yet the issue is of paramount importance to large numbers of Palestinians and Lebanese, whose families love their imprisoned sons, daughters, and fathers no less than we do ours.

The issue must be of paramount importance for us as well.

Samir Kuntar is a monster. He may never have deserved a life.

But Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev do. So do their families.

Free the monster. Let them live.

This constant struggle is the only salve in our times to the easy answers of fundamentalisms and overcompensating confidence of certitude.

2 replies on “The Liberation of a Murderer”

The Murder of Jewish Toddlers! What HEZBOLLAH is “ALL ABOUT!”

On July 12, 2006 Lebanese Hezbollah militants crossed the border with Israel in an operation dubbed “Operation Truthful Promise,” which was aimed at nabbing Israeli soldiers in exchange for Lebanese prisoners. Hezbollah succeeded in the operation and successfully took hostage two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. During the operation, eight Israeli soldiers were killed. This ignited the sequence of events which led to the Israel/Lebanon summer war.

The story goes further back than July of 2006. It really began in April 1979! On Sabbath day, April 22, 1979, Danny and Smadar Haran met up with a monster named Samir Kuntar.
Danny and Smadar were a loving Israeli couple. They had everything they could ever hope for… love, marriage and two precious daughters, Einat, 4 and Yael, 2. That day Smadar was home anticipating Danny’s return from work and preparing for the Sabbath. She had just picked up their two toddlers from day care. Danny, on the other hand, was looking forward to nothing more than getting home and spending time with his wife and his two young daughters.

Traditionally, the Sabbath is the most special day of the week, the day the family gets to spend time together and celebrate their bond to Judaism. It was especially important for Danny who, as a young father, had to work extra hard in order to provide for his wife and young children. Little did Smadar know that this would be the last Sabbath she would celebrate with her family because of a man named Samir Kuntar. Around midnight the nightmare began!

(Samir Kuntar; also spelled: Sameer Kuntar, Kantar, Qantar, Kintar, Quntar, Qintar, Cantar)

What’s the deal with Samir Kuntar?

Since April 22, 1979 Samir Kuntar has been incarcerated in an Israeli prison. Samir Kuntar, a Druze from the Lebanese mountain village of Aabey , who currently holds the dubious distinction of being the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israeli jails. Kuntar is currently ONE of THREE Lebanese prisoners still serving time in Israeli jails. Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to a 542 years prison sentence by the state of Israel . Israel even almost tried to pass a bill to have him executed! What did he do? What was his crime? The crime Kuntar committed was one of the most sickest, heinous, barbaric crime ever committed on Israeli soil.

The crime took place on April 22, 1979 when Kuntar led a group of 3 other terrorists, all members of Abu Abbas PLF (Palestinian Liberation Front), infiltrated the Israeli coastal city of Naharya and broke into the Haran family apartment and took Danny Haran and his 4 year old daughter Einat Haran hostage. When Kuntar and his gang broke into the apartment, the wife, Smadar Haran and her 2 year old daughter Yael, were also present in the apartment. Smadar managed to find a crawl space into which she, her younger daughter, 2 year old Yael, and a neighbor all hid. To prevent Yael from crying and giving away their hiding place, Smadar covered the child’s mouth with her hand.

Kuntar and his group took Danny and little Einat down to the beach. At the beach Kuntar shot Danny in the back. Danny survived the gun shot but moments later was drowned personally by Kuntar. All this was witnessed by the young daughter. Kuntar forced her to watch her father’s murder so that [in Kuntar’s words] “his death would be the last sight she would ever see.” Kuntar then laid the little toddler down on a rock and smashed her head with the butt of his rifle. She didn’t die right away, so Kuntar beat her with his rifle repeatedly, over and over again (all this done, while she was screaming and crying), to ensure that she was dead.

Meanwhile in the apartment, Smadar’s attempt to muffle her daughter’s whimpering proved fatal. Yael was accidentally suffocated and died within the hiding space.
And on July 12, 2006, the ONLY reason why Ehud Goldawasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah, was to force Israel to release/surrender Samir Kuntar.
Now the dilemma is, should Israel release Samir Kuntar in order to gain the release of Goldwasser and Regev? Unfortunately Kuntar might be freed in the next couple of days in exchange for these two soldiers, or their caskets, since there hasn’t been even one sign of life since their kidnapping on July 12th. For those who didn’t know, Samir Kuntar was the only reason that’s been holding back the release of Goldwasser and Regev, for almost a year and a half.

[Image of Einat Haran]
[Image of Yael Haran]

According to Smadar Haran, her last memories of Danny and Einat, that day, were when they were being led away at gun point by Kuntar. She could hear from her closet space Danny telling Einat, “Don’t be scared, my baby, it will be alright” and Einat replied to him in her little voice, “Dad, where is Mommy? I want Mommy.” Smadar’s last memory of her 2-year-old daughter, Yael, was when her little daughter was taken to the apartment hiding space. Right before Yael had her mouth covered by her mother, she asked her mother “Where is my little pacifier.” There was no time to search for the pacifier. Minutes later Smadar covered Yael’s mouth to keep her from revealing the hiding space. Smadar soon felt her daughter’s tiny tongue licks and lip sucking on the palm of her hand. She didn’t know what to make of it at first but hours later was told by doctors and paramedics that the reason Yael was licking her palm while she covered her mouth was because she was gasping for air.

A Sad Gruesome Reality

After drowning Danny in the sea in front of little Einat, Kuntar, the brave Lebanese freedom fighter, then turned his attention towards the frightened little 4-year old. He took his rifle and then swung it across the little toddler’s head, knocking her to the ground. As little Einat was knocked to the ground, she was screaming and crying hysterically “mommy daddy help me,” while thrashing her little legs around in the sand. But unfortunately Einat was alone, and no one was there to save her. Kuntar then dragged the little toddler a couple of feet to the closest rock he could find, this was while she was begging him not to hurt her. Kuntar, then laid her head down on a rock, with the intention of crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Einat, instinctively covered her head with her little arms, Kuntar struggled with the little toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way so that he could aim for her head. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar proceeded on beating her on the head over and over with the butt of his rifle, and repeatedly stomping on her little body as hard as he could as well, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth, and her little cries faded away as she was knocked into unconsciousness. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued on beating her over the head, as hard as he could, several more times until her skull was crushed and she was dead.

The nerve of Hezbollah to honor a child killer like Kuntar. The nerve of Hezbollah to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in order to force Israel to release a child murderer from jail! This is what Hezbollah is all about.

The July 12, 2006 abduction was originally named “Operation Freedom Samir Kuntar,” by Hezbollah. But days before the kidnapping Hezbollah changed the name of the operation to “Operation Truthful Promise,” due to the fact that Nasrallah made a true promise to the family of Samir Kuntar to have him freed from jail.

In September 2000, three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbollah, along with an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tennenbaum. Nasrallah immediately demanded Israel release all its Lebanese prisoners INCLUDING Samir Kuntar. In 2004 Israel was holding a TOTAL of 26 Lebanese prisoners. That same year, 23 out of those 26 prisoners were released, in order to secure the release of those 3 IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers as well and Elhanan Tennenbaum. This prisoner exchange also had a second phase, which involved Hezbollah providing solid evidence on the fate of Ron Arad (the Israeli pilot who went missing in Lebanon in 1986) and in exchange, Israel would release the 24th Lebanese prisoner, Samir Kuntar! Hezbollah failed to deliver the information on Arad, and the deal was off.

In 2006, when Goldwasser and Regev were kidnapped Israel was out of bargain chips, its only choice in order to gain information on the fate of these two soldiers is the release Samir Kuntar. Who even knows if Goldwasser and Regev are alive! Let’s not forget, the four years prior to the “infamous Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange of 2004,” Israel had no idea on the fate of their soldiers until the day of the exchange. Only on the day of the exchange Israel found out, they would receive 3 caskets instead of 3 soldiers.

It is beyond sickening, a man who beat to death a little toddler is celebrated for his glorious deed. Kuntar has been dubbed by some parts of the Arab world as the “Dean of World Prisoners.” Who would imagine? Hezbollah crossing the border into Israel, killing four Israeli soldiers and kidnapping 2 more, going through all this trouble, JUST to free a child killer!

There is another point worth mentioning. Hezbollah has never claimed that Kuntar was innocent or that he may have been framed. They only demand his release as if he were being held unlawfully and that Israel had no right to imprison him.

Kuntar is probably the most hated person by the Israeli public. He is known as the “killer of Nahrya” instead of “terrorist of Nahrya.” And to think that this person is being released under the context of threat, extortion, and blackmail! If it wasn’t for kidnapping of soldiers, Kuntar would have continued to serve out his sentence.

Israel has an extensive history of releasing prisoner with blood on their hands, it has been done in the past and most expect that, it would happen again. This time with Kuntar. It is important to keep in mind that prisoners who are in Israeli jails are serving time for something. Israel is not a “gangster” or “lawless” state that imprisons people based solely on a whim. Every prisoner was charged, stood trail, convicted and properly sentenced. They were not kidnapped simply because they were Arabs. Hence, there is no justification in comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers to Samir Kuntar.

There is a fine line between a humanitarian release of prisoners or releasing prisoners for the sake of peace AND knuckling under to unadulterated extortion. There is also a huge difference between someone with hatred in his head and he who has blood on his hands! Nobody expects that someone like Kuntar who is released will become Lovers of Israel! But someone and others like Kuntar who have committed murder or collaborated in the planning of that murder should be considered an unacceptable risk. It goes beyond forgiving terrorism. It becomes an abetting in any future terrorism carried out by those released. Israel will viewed as a weak state that can be brought to its knees by extortion.

If Israel was to release Kuntar it would be the biggest thing they ever surrendered! The Sinai Peninsula, Israel gave back under negotiations, the West Bank and Gaza Israel also gave back under negotiations of the Oslo Accords. In 1985 during the famous “Ahmed Jibril Exchange” Israel released 1200 prisoners for the release of 3 IDF soldiers, some of those prisoners who were released had blood on their hands including Kozo Okamoto who killed 22 Israelis. BUT even all those 1200 prisoners put together, cannot compare to the savage murderous act committed by Samir Kuntar. Israel also currently holds 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of which have been incarcerated for conspiring, carrying out, and masterminding murderous terrorist attacks (suicide bombings, shootings, etc…), which targeted Jewish civilians in Israel. BUT even all those 10,000 prisoners put together cannot compare to Kuntar.

Kuntar could have shot little Einat or blown her up, but instead he took his loaded gun and just bludgeoned her on the head repeatedly for several minutes until she was dead! Lets not also forget, the fact, that several minutes prior to murdering Einat, Kuntar drowned her father in front of her, and forced her to watch.

Anyone, who reads this article and does not shed a tear, is not a human being.
What kind of country is this to release a child murderer from jail under the context of threat and extortion? If we release Kuntar, we know what message it sends to Hezbollah and other terror groups like Hamas, etc… But what obscene messages does it send to the families of those Israeli murdered, especially Smadar Haran whose daughter was beaten to death by a man who hates Jews. What Kuntar did was not only a terrorist act but should also be considered a criminal act. And what demoralizing message does it send to the Israeli troops and security services who risked their lives in order to capture and arrest the terrorists?
There is no doubt that Goldwasser and Regev need to be unconditionally released from Lebanon, Syria, Iran or from wherever they are now being held. Olmert’s “good will gesture” has disaster written all over it. Appeasement didn’t work with Hitler and it will not work with Hezbollah. “Negotiations” will not work either for over what exactly is there to negotiate? How far will Israel go to assure its own disappearance?

There will be nothing positive coming out of the release of Kuntar. There is no worst context of releasing prisoners than under the context of threat. But today October 15, 2007 there is chatter within Israel to drop the demand for Ron Arad for the exchange of Kuntar.

The Official Website of Samir Kuntar
Israel moots Kuntar prisoner swap
(AL-JAZEERA 9/17/2006)
Free the monster Samir Kuntar
(Haaretz article 09/04/2006)
Plot to free terrorist (Kuntar) may have led to fight
(Washington Times 8/8/2006)
Nasrallah says no deal without Samir
(9/12/2006 BBC article “Nasrallah Demands Militant Free”)
“Hizballah Wants Israel to Free Child-Killer”
(Cybercast News Service, 7/18/2006)
More than 25 years later, militant still atop Hezbollah’s list for swap
(Seattle Times 8/16/2006)
Why Hezbollah Attacked Israel
(Mens News Daily 8/09/2006)
Samir Kuntar to be released very soon
The Jerusalem Post 1/6/2007
Video of an interview with Smadar Haran on CBC
(RealPlayer required)

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