Israeli officials praised the reported killing of Lebanese militant leader Samir Kuntar, responsible for murdering the Haran family in 1979 as part of a PLO operation and later joining Hezbollah following his release from Israeli prison.
Reports that Kuntar was killed sprung up Sunday morning after Syrian government loyalists on social media claimed that a number of rockets hit a building in the Damascus district of Jaramana.
The former head of the IDF's Northern Command, and current Zionist Union MK Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven praised the report, saying "IDF officials, Intelligence, the Air Force and others should be commended ... "Kuntar was a murderer who killed the Haran family in cold blood."
Meanwhile, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant told Israel Radio that "It is good that people like Samir Qantar will not be part of our world,"
Asked if Israel carried out the strike, Gallant said: "I am not confirming or denying anything to do with this matter." Other Israeli officials, including military spokesmen, declined comment.
Smadar Haran, the only survivor in the 1979 terror attack reportedly called Kuntar's death a "historic justice," according to opposition leader Isaac Herzog on his Twitter account.
"He was a terrorist that never abandoned the way of terror and murder for even a single day," she said. "The region is safer without him."
Kuntar was imprisoned after he and three others from the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated Nahariya by sea in April 1979 and broke into the apartment of the Haran family, where they kidnapped the father, Danny, and his four-year-old daughter Einat. They brought the pair back to the beach and killed them. Haran's other daughters, Yael, age two, was accidentally smothered to death as she and her mother, Smadar, hid from the terrorists in the apartment's crawl space.
Israel released Kuntar, a Druse, in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap
with the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah group and he is believed to have joined the group since. He was welcomed as a hero in Beirut and he married a Lebanese Shi'ite woman from a Hezbollah family.
After his release, Kuntar kept a low public profile. But it is believed that he had become a commander in Hezbollah, which has sent hundreds of its members to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
Syria's state media, which did not mention Kuntar, blamed "terrorist groups" for the attack and said it caused casualties.
But the National Defense Forces in Jaramana, which are part of a nationwide grouping of loyalist Syrian militias under the umbrella of the army said the explosions were an Israeli strike believed to have killed Kuntar, who is reviled in Israel for a 1979 attack that killed four people.
"Two Israeli warplanes carried out the raid which targeted the building in Jaramana and struck the designated place with four long range missiles," the NDF in Jaramana Facebook page said.
His brother Bassam Kuntar also mourned him on his Facebook page without giving details about his death, but said his brother was a martyr.
"With pride we mourn the martyrdom of the leader Samir Kuntar and we are honored to join families of martyrs," Bassam Kantar said on his Facebook page.
Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the war five years ago, mostly destroying weaponry such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for Hezbollah, Israel's long-time foe in neighboring Lebanon.
In January, an Israeli strike in Syria killed six members of Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of the group's late military leader Imad Moughniyah in the province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
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