Hezbollah commander reported killed in Israeli airstrike in Damascus

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A Lebanese leader who was held for nearly three decades in an Israeli prison was killed in an Israeli airstrike on a building in Damascus, Hezbollah reported.

Samir Kuntar, who was released in a 2008 swap for the corpses of Israelis killed in the 2006 Lebanon War, reportedly was killed early Sunday morning along with eight others.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said two Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace to fire on the residential building, according to the Associated Press.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the strike.

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Kuntar reportedly has been targeted by Israel before. In July, an Israeli surveillance plane reportedly bombed a car in Syria, killing five men, in an attack believed to be targeting Kuntar. In September, the U.S. State Department designated Kuntar as a terrorist.

Kuntar, who served 29 years in Israeli prison, was responsible for the deaths of four Israelis, including a 4-year-old girl and her father, in a 1979 attack in Nahariya. He is suspected of planning multiple attacks against Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights.

Reuters reported that he is believed to have become a commander in Hezbollah since his release from prison, and that Hezbollah has sent many of its members to fight in Syria with troops loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Smadar Haran, whose husband and four-year-old daughter were killed by Kuntar, and who accidentally smothered her two-year-old daughter while hiding from Kuntar, told Army Radio that Kuntar’s death was “historic justice.”

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