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Life & Death For Israel

IDF Chief Of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi: 'I Am Commander Of Both Living & Dead Soldiers And I Call On You To Bring Our Two Soldiers Home - Dead Or Alive'

Mossad Chief Meir Dagan & Shabak Chief Yuval Diskin: 'Giving Live Terrorists For Dead Soldiers Is A Big Mistake & Will Backfire Against Israel'

Former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit: 'As Little As Twelve Months Remain Before Iranian Nuclear Weapon - Little Chance That Barak Obama Will Attack Iranian Nuclear Installations'

Child Killer Samir Kuntar

Israel has been grappling with two questions of life and death - the controversial prisoner exchange with Hezbollah has apparently been resolved while the Iranian nuclear threat looms larger on the horizon. IsraCast sees a connection between these two issues facing the Jewish state in more ways than one.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi carried the day. When he told the Israeli cabinet: 'I am commander of both the living and dead IDF soldiers and I call on you to bring Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev home!' The cabinet then voted overwhelmingly to accept the proposed prisoner exchange with Hezbollah which was brokered by Germany. Earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert disclosed what has long been suspected - the two soldiers were killed in the Hezbollah cross border raid two years ago or that they died shortly after from their wounds.

Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev

But Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and Shabak Chief Yuval Diskin warned the government against exchanging live terrorists for dead soldiers. This would encourage not only Hezbollah but also the Palestinians to step up kidnapping attacks in the future. Moreover, the terrorists would not have to worry about keeping captured Israelis alive if Israel was ready to pay with live terrorists for Israeli bodies. And what of Corporal Gilad Shalit who was being held captive in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians would now escalate their demands of Israel to get him back. For Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah this will also be a major coup not only in Lebanon but throughout the entire Arab world where he is probably only second to Osama Bin Laden in popularity.

As part of the swap, Israel is to release the most notorious terrorist in Israel today, Samir Kuntar who is serving five life terms. Twenty-nine years ago, he personally murdered an Israeli father and young daughter by smashing in her skull with a rock. Kuntar's release is being greeted with jubilation in much of Lebanon where he is a national hero. In Israel, there is sadness that the two soldiers are indeed dead.

Since the Hezbollah attack that triggered the Second Lebanon War nearly two years ago, the Iranian backed terrorists have violated every possible norm of human decency. Not only did they never allow a visit by the International Red Cross, they also refused to give any sign the soldiers were alive or dead, leaving their families in continual uncertainty and agony. But for better or worse, Israel has decided - the ethos that fallen soldiers are never left behind proved the more compelling. A former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon sparked some bitter comments when he declared that in some cases the price that Israel might have to pay in future terror attacks might justify sacrificing a soldier who had been taken prisoner. This argument was also supported by three Kadima cabinet ministers who voted against the Olmert prisoner exchange. They contended that Israelis alive today may pay with their lives as a result of the current exchange that will encourage more terror in the future. Many Israeli experts contend that the 'Jibril exchange' of 1985 was the catalyst for the first Palestinian intifada - Israel freed 1,150 hard core terrorists for three IDF soldiers. Those terrorists later planned and executed the first and second intifadas.

In particular, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has come under fire for zig-zagging in his handling of the prisoner negotiations. The crux of the criticism centers on the exchange of live terrorists for dead soldiers. In a prudent, Israel also agreed to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners. One outcome may be that Israel will adopt a policy of refusing to again exchange live terrorists for dead Israelis. Even super-dove Yossi Beilin opposed the Hezbollah deal.

Another aspect involves an Israeli commitment to reveal all it knows about the disappearance of four Iranian diplomats who disappeared mysteriously in Lebanon several years ago. It is believed the diplomats were abducted by Christian Phalangers and later executed. Their bodies were thought to have been buried, Mafia style in the concrete foundations of a big building in Beirut.

There is another Iranian connection. Germany lent its good offices by acting as a mediator between Hezbollah and Iran for which the Israeli government has expressed its gratitude. But there is another side of the story that illustrates Israel's predicament over the looming Iranian nuclear threat. Although, Germany, France and other EU countries act in support of Israel in both word and deed, they are not really getting serious about imposing severe economic sanctions that might dissuade Tehran from continuing to develop the bomb with which they threaten to 'wipe Israel off the map'. Last year, German trade with Iran actually increased and total EU business soared to $22 billion dollars. The Israeli impression is that the Europeans pay lip service to stopping Iran while getting in line to do business.

Shabtai Shavit

This exasperation was expressed by Shabtai Shavit, a former Mossad director who serves as an advisor to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In an interview with the British paper, the Sunday Telegraph Shavit warned: 'The worse case scenario is that Iran may have a nuclear weapon within somewhere around a year... the time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time'. And Shavit added: 'We should be prepared - we should do whatever is necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on public opinion for the West. In case sanctions don't work what's left is a military action'.

Shavit, who served as deputy Mossad director, when the Israel Air force jets destroyed the French nuclear reactor being built for Saddam Hussein in Iraq pulled no punches when it came to an American strike against Iran's nuclear installations. He saw it this way: 'If John McCain gets elected he could easily make a decision to go for it, but if it's Barack Obama - no. My prediction is that he won't go for it; at least not in his first term in the White House'.

Would Israel have to get the green light from Washington for launching a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities? The intelligence expert replied: 'When it comes to decisions that have to do with our national security and our own survival, at best we may update the Americans that we are intending or planning, or going to do something. It's not a precondition getting an American agreement'.

Who Is Samir Kuntar?

Samir Kuntar and his terrorist group

On April 22, 1979, Samir Kuntar led a terrorist group of four who entered Israel from Lebanon by boat. The group members were Abdel Majeed Asslan born in 1955, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed born in 1960 and Ahmed AlAbras born in 1949. They all belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front under the leadership of Abu Abbas. The group departed from the seashore of Tyre in Southern Lebanon using a 55 horse-powered motorized rubber boat with an 88 km/h speed. The goal of the operation was to attack Nahariya, 10 kilometers away from the Lebanese border. The group called their operation the Nasser Operation.

Samir Kuntar and his terrorist group

Around midnight they arrived at the coastal town of Nahariya. The four murdered a policeman who came across them. The group then entered a high building, 61 Jabotinsky Street, where they parted into two groups. One group broke into the apartment of the Haran family before police reinforcements had arrived. The terrorists took 28 year old Danny Haran hostage along with his four-year-old daughter, Einat. The mother, Smadar Haran, was able to hide in a crawl space above the bedroom with her two-year-old daughter Yael, and a neighbor.

Terrorist Samir Kuntar

After taking the hostages, Kuntar's group took Danny and Einat down to the beach, where a shootout with Israeli policemen and soldiers erupted. Samir Kuntar shot the father, Danny, at close range in the back, in front of his daughter, and drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead. Next, he smashed the head of Einat, the four-year-old girl, on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.

Back in the crawl space, two-year-old Yael Haran was accidentally suffocated to death by her mother's attempts to quiet her whimpering from revealing their hideout, so that they would not be found by Kuntar's group.

Samir Kuntar and his terrorist group

A policeman and two of Samir Kuntar's unit were also killed in the shootout on the beach; Kuntar and the fourth terrorist were captured. The latter, Ahmed AlAbras, was freed by Israel in the Ahmed Jibril prisoner exchange deal of May 1985 (1,150 Arab political prisoners were exchanged for three Israeli prisoners of war held in Lebanon), but Kuntar was not included in the deal.

Several months later, the PLF seized the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, demanding that Israel release Kuntar, along with 50 other Palestinian terrorists, though Kuntar was the only prisoner specifically named. The hijackers killed a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer during this raid and had his body and wheelchair thrown overboard.


The World Should Know What He Did to My Family - By Smadar Haran Kaiser, Washington Post

David Essing

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