Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese Druse terrorist who served almost 30 years in an Israeli jail, was freed in a 2008 prisoner swap with Hezbollah.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Samir Kuntar, a terrorist murderer released in a prisoner exchange in 2008, was reportedly killed by what is believed to have been an Israeli drone strike last week, after he recruited some 120 Syrian Druse to fight on behalf of President Bashar Assad or Hezbollah, an Arab newspaper reported.
The alleged Israel Air Force drone attack struck a vehicle on the outskirts of the Druse village of Hader, near the Golan Heights. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that five people were killed in the attack – two members of Hezbollah and three from the Syrian National Defense Forces, a pro-government militia.
The observatory added that the cell was led and supervised by Kuntar, who was traded by Israel in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli reservists killed by Hezbollah in 2006.
A civilian source told the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat
in a report published on Sunday that some members of the Shabiha pro-regime thugs and the Syrian National Defense Forces, a pro-government militia whose members often come from the areas where they fight, were selected and underwent training in Lebanon and Iran.
A group called the Syrian Resistance to Liberate the Golan, formed more than two years ago and under the direct supervision of Hezbollah, had been seeking a foothold on the Syrian side of the Golan to launch attacks against Israel. The group dispatched the Druse Kuntar at the beginning of 2014 to persuade Druse families in the villages of the Golan, the city of Sweida, and Damascus to form a Druse militia to fight for the regime, a source told Asharq al-Awsat.
However, Kuntar “failed to recruit Druse youth, but was able to win over no more than 120 known Shabiha,” according to a Syrian opposition source in the South.
Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druse who served as former Likud deputy minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that despite the large budget that Hezbollah granted Kuntar, he did not succeed in recruiting Druse. Safadi said that Kuntar was able to recruit only some people from the poorest sector for money.
Asked about claims that Kuntar may have been killed in the strike, he replied that “There is still no proof that he is dead or alive. Nobody knows what happened to him. I spoke with people and everyone cited rumors that he was killed, but there is no proof. His body still has not arrived to his family,” said Safadi, who has independently met with members of the liberal and democratic Syrian opposition who oppose the Islamists and want friendly relations with Israel.
In June, Dolan Abu Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, told the Post
that Kuntar was in Hader seeking to stir up anti-Israel activity.
Druse and Circassian Local Councils Forum head Jaber Hamoud also told the Post that Kuntar is not considered to be a Druse anymore. He added that Kuntar and others associated with Hezbollah are trying to create chaos inside Israel.Yaakov Lappin and Reuters contributed to this report.
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