While Israel continues to keep quiet on the assassination of Samir Kuntar, not officially addressing reports that it was behind the hit, members of the Free Syrian Army released a video clip on Monday morning claiming that they were responsible for killing the Hezbollah terrorist.
In a YouTube video featuring armed rebels from the Free Syrian Army, a spokesman denied Hezbollah's claims that the "Zionist entity" was behind the attack, saying instead that they had managed to assassinate Kuntar and his companions.
The Free Syrian Army said that "the Party of Satan," a play on the meaning of Hezbollah in Arabic (Party of God), had made the claims that Israel was behind the assassination in order to demoralize the Free Syrian Army and cancel out their rival group's achievements.
The Free Syrian Army is fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Hezbollah has sent thousands of its fighters from Lebanon to Syria to bolster Assad.
In the YouTube clip, the Free Syrian Army speaker vowed to continue coming after Hezbollah. "We swear by Allah," they warned, "Hezbollah will not be able to avoid the strike of the Syrian Army."
Israeli officials praised the killing of Kuntar, who was 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 Quntar 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.
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.
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. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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