Terrorist Samir Kuntar, who was killed in Syria last week in an airstrike widely attributed to Israel, has been hailed in recent days as a hero by Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials.
Comments by leading PA officials in recent days, published Thursday by Palestinian Media Watch, hailed Kuntar as a “hero,” a “martyr” and a defender of “freedom and honor.”
A Lebanese Druze, Kuntar became infamous for a brutal 1979 raid from Lebanon in which he helped kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Three other Israelis, including her father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack. Kuntar was 16 at the time, and a member of the Palestine Liberation Front.
Kuntar spent 29 years in an Israeli prison before being traded to Hezbollah in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Following his release, he took on a senior role in the group and helped to organize Syrian Druze on the Golan Heights and elsewhere into terror cells charged with carrying out attacks against Israel.
But Kuntar’s murderous actions were viewed differently by Palestinian officials.
Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake stated on Tuesday: “Martyr Samir Kuntar is a Palestinian symbol.
“We will not forget your heroic acts and sacrifice, and we will talk about you with all future generations. We will tell them: Kuntar rubbed the nose of the occupier in the dust here,'” the Ma’an news agency quoted Karake as saying.
Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi on Monday called Kuntar’s killing “a heinous crime” and extended his “warm condolences” to his family, according to the al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper.
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Wasel Abu Yusuf told the paper Kuntar “believed in the concept of resistance and implemented it in Palestine since his youth, in the heroic operation in Nahariya.”
A host on official Palestinian television called the man “a great fighter” who defended “freedom, honor, and the Palestinian national struggle.”
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, in a letter of condolence to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, said Kuntar was a “national hero, one of the outstanding knights, senior among prisoners, Martyr of the Lebanese resistance and Martyr of Palestine… To him be glory in paradise with the prophets and truth speakers.”
Palestinians on Tuesday held a ceremony to commemorate Kuntar. The event took place in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority government, and was attended by officials from the Fatah party, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
Various groups organized the ceremony, which was held in a hall bedecked with Palestinian and Syrian flags along with pictures of Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
There was no official Israeli confirmation of the attack, although officials expressed satisfaction at his death. Kuntar was with a group of commanders from his group, which was planning attacks on Israel, reports said.