The story, however, goes further back than July of 2006. It really began in April of 1979. On April 22, 1979, Danny and Smadar Haran met up with a Lebanese 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. On that day, Smadar was home anticipating Danny's return from work. 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.
Around midnight, the nightmare began. Kuntar and three other terrorists - all members of the Palestinian Liberation Front - infiltrated the northern Israeli coastal town of Nahariya and broke into the Haran family apartment. Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat, were taken hostage. During the home invasion, Smadar Haran and her 2-year-old daughter Yael managed to find a crawl space in which to hide. To prevent Yael from crying and giving away their hiding place, Smadar covered the child's mouth with her hand.
Kuntar and his group took Danny and little Einat down to the beach. At the beach, Kuntar shot Danny in the back. Danny survived the gun shot, but moments later was drowned personally by Kuntar. All this was witnessed by the young daughter. Kuntar forced her to watch her father's murder so that [in Kuntar's words] "his death would be the last sight she would ever see." He then laid her down on a rock and smashed her head with the butt of his rifle.
Meanwhile, in the apartment, Smadar's attempt to muffle her daughter's whimpering proved fatal. Yael was accidentally suffocated and died within the hiding space.
Samir Kuntar is currently one of only three Lebanese prisoners still serving time. This Druze from the Lebanese mountain village of Aabey currently holds the dubious distinction of being the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israeli prisons. And the sentence is far from over. He was convicted and sentenced to a 542-year prison term. His crime was of such a heinous, barbaric nature that Israel nearly passed a bill to have him executed.
Fast forward to July 12, 2006. The only reason Ehud Goldawasser and Eldad Regev were abducted by Hizbullah was to force Israel to release Samir Kuntar. Now, the dilemma is whether or not Israel should release Kuntar in order to secure the release of Goldwasser and Regev. And since there has been no news as to the health of the two Israeli soldiers, Kuntar may be exchanged for two body bags.
The July 12 abduction plot was originally named "Operation Freedom Samir Kuntar" by Hizbullah. However, just days before the operation was launched, Hizbullah changed the name to "Operation Truthful Promise." This was based upon the "true promise" that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah made to Kuntar's family to have him freed from Israeli prison.
Hizbullah has never claimed that Kuntar was innocent or that he may have been framed. Kuntar is their hero and they demand his release as if he were being held unlawfully. Sadly, Israel has an extensive history of releasing prisoners with blood on their hands. Most expect that it might happen again, this time with Kuntar.
It is important to keep in mind that prisoners in Israeli jails are serving time for something. Israel is not a "gangster" or "lawless" state that imprisons people based solely on a whim. Every prisoner was charged, stood trail, was convicted and properly sentenced. They were not kidnapped simply because they were Arabs. Hence, there is no justification in comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers to Samir Kuntar.
If Israel were to release Kuntar, it would be the biggest surrender. The Sinai Peninsula, Israel gave back under negotiations; the West Bank and Gaza Israel also gave away under negotiations of the Oslo Accords. In 1985, during the famous "Ahmed Jibril Exchange," Israel released 1,200 prisoners for the release of three IDF soldiers. Some of those prisoners who were released had blood on their hands, including Kozo Okamoto who killed 26 people in Israel. But even all those 1,200 prisoners put together cannot compare to the savage murderous act committed by Samir Kuntar. Israel also currently holds 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have been incarcerated for conspiring, carrying out or masterminding murderous terrorist attacks (suicide bombings, shootings, etc.), which targeted Jewish civilians in Israel. But even all those 10,000 prisoners put together cannot compare to Kuntar.
Kuntar could have shot little Einat or blown her up, but instead, he took his loaded gun and just bludgeoned her on the head repeatedly for several minutes until she was dead. Lets not also forget the fact that several minutes prior to murdering Einat, Kuntar drowned her father in front of her, and forced her to watch.
There is a fine line between a humanitarian release of prisoners, or releasing prisoners for the sake of peace, and knuckling under to unadulterated extortion. The latter will be viewed as a response by a weak state that can be brought easily to its knees by extortion. What obscene messages does it send to the families of those Israelis murdered by Kuntar and future Kuntars? And what demoralizing message does it send to the Israeli troops and security services who risk their lives in order to capture and arrest Arab terrorists?
There is no doubt that Goldwasser and Regev need to be unconditionally released from Lebanon, Syria, Iran or from wherever they are now being held. Olmert's "good-will gesture" has disaster written all over it. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler and it will not work with Hizbullah. What exactly is there to negotiate? How far will Israel go to assure its own disappearance?
There will be nothing positive coming from the release of Samir Kuntar.