These personal reflections are based upon an e-mail to Susie Becher, a member of the Meretz-Yahad party executive, whom we met while attending the World Union of Meretz conference and the World Zionist Congress last month — a million years ago.– R. Seliger
Everybody in this crisis is playing a customary role. Hezbollah (and Hamas previously) have made their provocations and Israel has immeasurably ratcheted up the violence level in response. Now, they can all compete ably as righteously aggrieved parties – we’ve seen this before.
I hate the wholesale suffering being inflicted upon Lebanese civilians and know that this excess has strengthened support for Hezbollah politically. But given that this has already happened, I hope that the IDF can somehow deliver a blow against the actual Hezbollah fighters and thereby trigger a diplomatic process that removes them and their rockets and missiles from the border. I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s for this reason that I have reluctantly disagreed with calls for an immediate cease-fire. But I’m not of one mind in this; I know that cease-fires take time to arrange and hope that Secretary Rice can help pull it together.
I think that Meretz USA’s statement on the crisis (posted on our homepage) is flawed because it doesn’t emphasize enough the need to minimize civilian casualties; I would have preferred more questioning of IDF targeting priorities. To a large degree, we’re all floundering in an attempt to make sense of things.
It is amazing how things got so bad, so quickly after we spent time there. I visited with various relatives near Haifa for two days, right after the World Zionist Congress, even strolling along the beach there. (My flight departed on June 25, just before the attack from Gaza that captured Gilad Shalit — who turns out to be related to some of my cousins!) My Haifa- area relatives report that a rocket landed a block from their former home of less than a year ago and that the old downtown post office near my late uncle’s apartment has been hit. They themselves report constant hours and days in shelters and security rooms, and a food shortage due to limited access to a grocery store.
Another cousin has left her boyfriend’s house in Nahariya and was in refuge with him near Jerusalem, before returning to her kibbutz next door to Nahariya, where she says that many rockets reported as hitting Nahariya, are actually falling on their grounds. She’s the closest to me emotionally, having stayed with me in New York for several months in the fall of 2001, when we experienced 9/11 together. She’s a member of Meretz, but actually more dovish than I — an activist in Women in Black and Tayuush (a joint Jewish-Arab Israeli effort to relieve the suffering of Palestinians under the occupation) and remarked upon how difficult it is now, to be “in the opposition.”
The following is excerpted from Susie Becher’s article in Ynet:
…. Analysts looking for the answer to how we got here ought to recall the initial demand from the Palestinian militias for the release of female prisoners and children in exchange for Gilad Shalit. In our rush not to negotiate with terrorists (never mind that we have done so in the past and will inevitably end up doing so again this time) no one bothered to consider how it came to be that hundreds of Palestinian women and children are languishing in Israeli jails.
Those who can’t understand why the Palestinians haven’t given up the struggle in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza might be surprised to learn that they don’t share the distinction Israel draws between Gaza and the West Bank, and suffer daily reminders that the demolition of Gush Katif did not leave them a free people in their own land….
… Olmert is still trying to sell the idea that there is a measure of force that has not yet been used but which, when unleashed, will deal what the prime minister called the “winning blow.”
More force, he is telling us, will succeed where mere force failed. We must restore the Israel’s deterrent power, he is saying, as if the IDF’s military superiority has ever been in question and as if it stopped the stones of the first intifada from evolving into explosive belts and rockets.
Whether Hasan Nasrallah gave the order to attack Israel’s northern border and take IDF soldiers prisoner because he wanted to come to the aid of the Palestinians, win the release of Sami Kuntar after almost 30 years in captivity, ‘liberate’ the Sheba Farms farms, or simply strike a blow at the Zionist enemy, Israel certainly had a right to respond.
But as the saying goes, it is better to be smart than right, and the government has been anything but smart from day one. It is proceeding militarily as it did diplomatically prior to this latest outbreak – with no peripheral vision….
“THE REAL REASON FOR THE 2006 SUMMER WAR
BETWEEN HEZBOLLAH AND ISRAEL.”
CONFESSED CHILD KILLER!
On July 12, 2006 Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists 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!
Who is Samir Kuntar?
Samir Kuntar is one of three Lebanese prisoners still serving time in Israeli jails. Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze born on July 20, 1962 in the Lebanese mountain village of Aabey currently holds the dubious distinction of being the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israeli jails! He was a member of Abu Abbas’ notorious PLF (Palestine Liberation Front) which committed despicable acts of terror against Israeli, Jewish, and American targets worldwide throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to a 534 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 Nasser Operation
The crime he committed was the most horrific crime ever committed on Israeli soil! On April 22, 1979 Samir Kuntar along with a gang of three other PLF terrorists (Abed Majeed Asslan, Ahmed Al-Abras, and Mhanna Salim Al- Muyaed) departed from the southern Lebanese seashore city of Tyre on a 55-horsepowered rubber motor boat. Their destination was the Israeli coastal city of Naharyia, about 10 km south of the Lebanese border, the target of their operation was a residential apartment building. This operation was dubbed “Nasser Operation” and its aim was the killing and terrorizing of Israel’s Jewish civilians.
The terrorists made landfall in the Israeli coastal city of Naharyia at around midnight, undetected under the cover of darkness. As they made their way along the shore, they were intercepted by an Israeli police officer whom they shot dead. In Naharya the terrorists broke into a building as other Israeli police officers arrived on the scene. The terrorists then broke into Danny and Smadar Haran’s apartment, fired their weapons and threw grenades. 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.
According to Smadar “They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. ‘This is just like what happened to my mother,’ I thought.”
Sadly, Smadar’s attempt to muffle her daughter’s whimpering proved fatal. Yael was accidentally suffocated and died within the hiding space.
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.
After taking Danny and four-year old Einat hostage, Kuntar and his group took them down to the beach. Samir Kuntar quickly shot Danny in the back and then drowned him in the Mediterranean Sea to ensure his death. While Kuntar drowned Danny, he forced terrified Einat to watch and cry. According to eyewitnesses, “Danny was murdered in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see.” Little Einat would not have that horrible memory in her head for long. Kuntar, the brave Lebanese freedom fighter, crushed Einat’s skull over and over upon the rocks with the butt of his rifle until she was dead.
During the ensuing shootout between Kuntar’s terror group and Israeli police, two policeman were killed along with two of the Arab terrorists. Kuntar and the fourth participant, Ahmed Al-Abrass, were captured. Ahmed Al-Abrass was later free by the Israeli authorities in the infamous May 1985 Ahmed Jibril prisoner exchange deal in which 1,150 Arab prisoners (some of whom had blood on their hands) were exchanged for three Israeli soldiers. Kuntar was not included in the deal.
The Israeli government determined at first to make a decision to execute Kuntar, for his horrific crime, especially for the fact that he tortured and beat to death the 4-year old toddler. Israeli Prime Minister at that time, Menachem Beagin , proposed a draft resolution to the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Israeli Keenest on April 24, 1979. He demanded to eliminate a previous resolution stipulated by the Israeli cabinet, which said no execution should be implemented against terrorists as the international law prohibits it. The Israeli Foreign Minister Izer Weizman and Transportation Minister Hayeem Landau supported Beagin’s draft resolution. Abraham Sharer, who was the head of the Likude parliamentary bloc also, called for Kuntar’s execution. Isaac Shamir issued a statement on April 25, 1979 also calling for his execution.
Kuntar flashing the victory sign while being sentenced
by an Israeli court. File photo from Israeli newspaper
The Israelis tried to implement the execution sentence on Samir Kuntar and the whole parliament agreed on them. The only dilemma they were having was the Israeli law that doesn’t allow execution except for the Nazis of the World War II and to those found guilty of betrayal to their country. Furthermore, they did not want the international community on their backs; also, they wanted to improve their relationship with Egypt after the peace process. As a consequence, the Israeli central court in Haifa sentenced Kuntar to 5 life sentences plus 47 years to come up with the total of 542 years. During the trial, Kuntar was waving victory signs, and called himself a hero.
Samir Kuntar has confessed proudly to his murder of the little girl and never once showed one ounce of remorse for his crime. Even while serving his prison term, he has bragged repeatedly during interviews about how proud he was for murdering the 4-year-old Israeli child. While in prison Kuntar got married and even receives conjugal visits. Below he stands proudly alongside other convicted Arab murderer, Marwan Barghouti.
Several months later, the PLF seized the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, and demanded that Israel release Kuntar along with a list of 50 other Palestinian prisoners. Ironically out of the 50 Arab Palestinian prisoners that were demanded, Kuntar was the ONLY one that was “actually” named on that list. The hijackers killed a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, and threw him overboard into the Mediterranean Sea. Kuntar was not released, but his supporters would not give up. In 2004 Israel release ALL Lebanese prisoners except for Kuntar and two other Lebanese (Nissim Nasser and Yehya Sakaf). In fact Kuntar, as well, was almost released by Israel during that infamous Israel Hezbollah Prisoner Exchange of 2004, BUT in the last second Hezbollah violated the agreement and Kuntar remained behind bars!
War: July 12, 2006
On July 12, 2006 per orders of Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hasssan Nasrallah, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the northern Israeli border. They attacked two Israeli military vehicles with anti tank missiles, killed four soldiers, kidnapped two others and demanded the immediate unconditional release of Samir Kuntar in exchange for the two abducted soldiers. Hezbollah originally named this operation “Operation Freedom for Samir Al-Kuntar,” but on the days leading up to the July 12 attack it was shortened to “Operation Truthful Promise.” The latter referred to the “true promise” Nasrallah had made to the Kuntar family that the cross-border kidnapping of IDF soldiers to force the release of Samir Kuntar.
In subsequent interviews on Al-Manar TV station Dr Mohamad Jawad Khalifeh, the Lebanese Minster of Health, congratulated Hezbollah for “its great actions” and said that “Lebanon has the right to regain its prisoners and liberate them.” Ali Ammar, an Hezbollah member of the Lebanese Parliament, stated his opinion that “particularly at this basic stage in the history of the homeland and the nation, this government should have expressed solidarity with its people and let Samir Quntar feel that he is a Lebanese par excellence.”
As expected, the Israeli government was not interested in negotiating with terrorists. They sent a small number of troops into southern Lebanon in an attempt to quickly find and free their two soldiers. Soon Hezbollah began shelling Israel’s northern communities with Katuysha rockets in an attempt to kill as many innocent men, women and children as possible and to pressure the Israeli government to take the prisoner exchange demand. Israel had no choice but to escalate their response. Both Hezbollah, their supporters and Lebanon’s civil infrastructure all suffered the consequences. Even though Israel defeated Hezbollah during this war, it still didn’t manage to get its soldiers back.
During the fighting Israel captured a Hezbollah terrorist by the name of Ali Hassan Saliman. In the interviews/interrogations following his capture, Saliman said that the main objective of Hezbollah’s corss-border kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers was to secure the release of Samir Kuntar. Also, that Nasrallah had made a promise to the Kuntar family that Samir would be released. The Hezbollah operation was first and foremost aimed at releasing Kuntar. Everything else was secondary.
Israel’s track record of going against it’s previous policy of not releasing Arab prisoners with blood on their hands in exchange for IDF soldiers has come home to roost. Arab terrorist groups have been encouraged to kidnap Israelis in the hope (and often the expectation) that these soldiers will become bargaining chips for the release of Arab prisoners. This softening of Israel’s formerly strict policy of never negotiating with terrorists has merely added fuel to the fire. Israeli soldiers are supposed to protect the children of Israel, not to facilitate the release of child murderers, such as the monster, Samir Kuntar.
Neither Israelis individually nor their military intentionally targets children or any non-combatant, for that matter. When children die, it is nearly always because they are caught in the crossfire or when they are “set up” by their fellow Arab-terrorists to score propaganda points. But NEVER would manner of the killing be so pre-planned nor would the act itself be so glorified, such as that as Samir Kuntar.
Smadar Haran has since remarried and is raising a new family. She hopes that Samir Kuntar will stay behind bars until his dying day. “I don’t believe that the terrorist will be released now, and I don’t believe that the Israeli government will accept this request, after it promised not to release terrorists with blood on their hands.”
We at SamirKuntar.net concur with Smadar Haran. We will do whatever we can to see that Samir Kuntar rots in Israeli prisons. We would also urge the Israeli government and courts to reverse the long-standing policy of not allowing for the administration of the death sentence. After all, Samir Kuntar and other Samir Kuntars like him never thought twice about administrating the death sentence to little Einat Haran and other Einat Harans just like her!
Kuntar was not the reason Israel chose to go to war with Lebanon but he was the reason Hezbollah kidnapped the two soldiers which set the war process in motion.
Neither Israel nor Hezbollah doubt that Kuntar murdered Danny and Einat Haran. The only difference is that Israel sees him as the cold-blooded murderer he is. Hezbollah and their supporters glorify him as a freedom fighter and hero!
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. Once again it’s all about Israel never doing any right and Arabs incapable of doing any wrong!
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 the head, and then he proceeded on beating her over and over with the butt of his rifle until blood rushed out of her ears 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.
ARTICLES AND REFERENCES
Israel moots Kuntar prisoner swap
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