Israel Minister, Victims' Family Praise Killing of Hizbullah's Quntar

Israel's justice minister Sunday welcomed the death of Lebanese militant Samir al-Quntar but did not claim credit for the air strike in Syria that killed him, which Hizbullah said was an Israeli raid.

The Israeli family of his victims also said "justice has been done."

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told army radio that Israel "has not claimed" the strike but "was happy to learn the news."

"He was an arch-terrorist who killed a young girl by fracturing her skull and had continued his terrorist activities after being freed," she said. "It's a good thing he met his maker."

Quntar had denied killing the girl, saying she was killed in the crossfire.

Israel had convicted Quntar of murdering three Israelis, including the four-year-old girl.

He was freed by Israel as part of a prisoner swap in 2008, three decades after the killings, and he became a high-profile figure in Hizbullah.

Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said he was not sorry about Quntar's death but could not comment on the accusations that Israel was behind the killing.

"If something happened to him I think that no civilized person can be sorry. But again I learned it from the reports in the international media and I can make no concrete reference to it," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not comment about the strike in his weekly Cabinet meeting.

Hizbullah said Quntar was killed on Saturday night in an Israeli air raid near the Syrian capital Damascus.

Israeli media have quoted military sources as saying Hizbullah had put him in charge of the Syrian part of the Golan Heights.

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror noted that Israel has said it will act against weapons transfers to Hizbullah as well as what it sees as preparations to attack Israel.

Quntar "was very active in the north part of the Golan Heights in the Syrian side, responsible for preparing the area for attacks against Israel," he said.

"And if he is neutralized by someone, it's good news for the state of Israel," Amidror, a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told reporters.

He said however he did not know whether Israel was responsible. Asked why Israel does not claim credit for such incidents, he said it makes it less likely for the other side to retaliate.

Quntar was a teenager when he and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated the Israeli village of Nahariya by sea from Lebanon.

Israeli authorities said the militants shot dead Danny Haran, 28, and battered his daughter Einat's skull with rifle butts.

Quntar was sentenced to five life terms plus 47 years for murdering Haran, Einat and an Israeli policeman.

Smadar Haran, Danny's widow, told army radio on Sunday that "justice has been done, especially when we know that he has continued to be active in terrorism against us since his release."

Their second daughter suffocated as Smadar Haran tried to keep the two-year-old from making noise and revealing their hiding spot during the kidnapping of her husband and other daughter.

Danny Haran's brother Ronny told the Ynet news website that Quntar's death is "a small comfort, but it doesn't detract from the pain one bit."

Source: Agence France Presse

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