Samir Kuntar really had it coming. The rockets that destroyed his hideout in the heart of Damascus executed one of the most disgusting Arab terrorists in Israeli history.
The night of April 22, 1979:
- Four terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine land undetected in a rubber dinghy on the coast of Nahariya in Western Galilee. They have set out from up the coast at Tyre, Lebanon. Their mission is to capture Israeli hostages to exchange for terrorists.
- They make it into town where they open fire, killing an Israeli policeman, before they rush into an apartment building.
- When they first try to break into an apartment, the occupant opens fire with his revolver, killing one of the attackers.
- The other terrorists then move on to the apartment of the Haran family where they take Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, Einat, prisoner. The mother, Smadar, had managed to grab the two-year-old, Yael, and hide in a narrow storage space under the ceiling. In her frantic effort to prevent the baby from whimpering and giving them away to the terrorists, Smadar clutches Yael to her chest inadvertently smothering her.
- The three terrorists with Danny Haran and four-year-old Einat then make it back to the beach to try and escape on their dinghy.
- Meanwhile, a unit of Golani soldiers has rushed to the area and a firefight ensues.
- When the terrorists see their dinghy has been shot full of holes and after a second terrorist has been killed, they shoot Danny Haran in the back. Samir Kuntar then bashes in the head of four-year-old Einat. Brain tissue was later detected on the butt of his rifle.
- The IDF commander on the spot orders the two remaining terrorists to be taken alive. They surrender and sentenced later to life but both are released in a prisoner swap, Kuntar in 2008.
The cold-blooded murder of the four-year-old Einat sent a wave of revulsion throughout Israel and rekindled the public debate over introducing the death penalty on such killers. Another issue was whether every citizen should be allowed to own a private weapon. Both demands were rejected. Even today, only security personnel are authorized to carry weapons. Private citizens must apply for a gun permit justifying their particular need for carrying a personal weapon. They must also supply a document from the Israeli police that they have no criminal record and are law-abiding citizens. Only an estimated 3% of private citizens have their own personal weapons.
In any case, Kuntar returned to Lebanon bragging about his ‘heroic’ attack in Israel and was welcomed as a national hero. Over the years, he dropped his Druze religion, became a Shiite Muslim, and then took a second wife, a Shiite. This enabled him to sell his services to Hezbollah and the Iranians.
This brings us to the night of December 19, when several rockets demolished his hideout in Damascus. Officially, Israel has not taken responsibility for the counter-terror strike that killed Kuntar. Cabinet Minister Yoav Gallant, who as a young naval commando took part in the cleanup operation off the coast of Nahariya back in 1979, would only say, ‘We’re better off without him’.
If so, several things may be deduced. First, Israel obviously has very good intelligence about what is being planned on the other side of the Golan Heights. Second, Israel will act to prevent Hezbollah and/or Iran from escalating new attacks from that area. Third, Israel will not be deterred by Russia’s massive military presence inside Syria today. Moreover, it would also appear that Netanyahu and Putin see eye-to-eye on each side acting to protect its strategic interests in Syria.
On this score, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan has revealed that when a Russian jet crossed into Israeli air space recently, the Israeli air controller immediately went on the radio channel saying something like, ‘Hey guy, you have just entered our air space, please leave’. The Russian pilot complied immediately.
Back in Beirut…
Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nassralah, had no doubt Israel was responsible for executing Kuntar. In an immediate speech to the nation, Nassralah warned that Hezbollah would retaliate at a ‘time and place of its choosing’. What is happening is actually a replay of a similar series of incidents that occurred last January when an Israeli air strike killed a senior Iranian officer and Jihad Mughniyah, the son of the late Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyah. After the Israeli attack in January, Hezbollah disclosed that Mughniyah Jr. and the Iranian officer were on a ‘field reconnaissance mission’ – this is double-talk for planning cross border attacks against Israel. At the time, Nassralah also warned he would retaliate, and in fact he did. Hezbollah rocketed an IDF vehicle traveling inside Israel. Tension soared, but neither side wanted a new war, so things quieted down as quickly as they had flared.
The IDF has ordered Israeli farmers who work right up to the Lebanese border to lay low for the time being. Nassralah is under pressure to react and is likely to do so, but in a calculated manner. Up to his neck with the Hezbollah casualties fighting for Assad in Syria, Nassralah does not need big trouble with Israel now.
The secret of Israel’s hi-tech success…
Obviously, Israel has displayed its high-tech talents in tracking down Kuntar’s hideout in war-torn Damascus, as well as knowing when he would be at home and how to guide the rockets to their target. And that is why Nassralah has delivered his public speeches from inside his underground bunker, bearing in mind that he is personally responsible for murdering and maiming hundreds, possibly thousands, of innocent Israelis, and even Americans for that matter.
Former Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, one of Israel’s most highly respected leaders, has played an impressive role in the state’s meteoric progress in hi-tech. Arens, who grew up in the U.S. was a professor of aeronautical engineering at the Haifa Technion before entering politics with the Likud. Arens, who has just turned ninety, says Israel has a lot of talented people driven by great motivation. Interviewed by the Israel Today newspaper, Arens noted Israel has made fantastic progress from the very poor country, fighting for its life in 1948, to the very strong state that has developed into a hi-tech nation.
But what of the Iranian nuclear threat?
“In principle, the Iranian nuclear threat has not passed. All it takes is one bomb. Since our withdrawal from Sinai, we are a ‘one-target’ mission from the nuclear aspect. It is an existential threat. The Iranians are still not there, but there can be no doubt that’s their aspiration. Even if they get the Bomb, I doubt very much if they’ll use it. I would say the immediate danger dangling over our heads since the War of Independence (1948) and during the first days of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 no longer exists. There are other dangers. We can compete even with the Iranians. It’s not pleasant, we’d prefer not to have to cope with it but we have the capabilities.”
The interview with Arens came during the same week that Israel successfully tested the ‘David’s Sling’ intermediate range missile defense system. The week before, Arrow-3 intercepted an incoming nuclear missile high over the Mediterranean. The Jewish state now has a complete, world class, short, intermediate and long-range missile defense system. In fact, one of the problems of the war with Gaza in the summer of 2014 was the IDF’s failure to intercept Palestinian mortar bombs fired at Israeli settlements just over the border. Israel has now developed the first of its kind anti-mortar defense. (The problem with a mortar is that unlike a rocket it has no complete trajectory in the air to its target it is simply propelled for a designated distance and then drops suddenly on the target; in other words, like a bomb).
Prof. Arens donned his academic gown and explained how Israel, a poor agricultural country in 1948 has turned into a hi-tech super-power in 2015:
“Today there is no doubt about our capabilities. We know how to develop just about anything. In Israel, we have great human raw material – our young men and women. We have good schools and academic institutions. Moreover, we have the best institution for such fields – the IDF. People think of the IDF as only an army, but there, young men and women learn about accomplishing their missions, motivation, and in many cases learn a profession. Our cyber capability is derived from this military training. The IDF is tasked with protecting the country, and it does so by fulfilling an additional role of educating the next generation. It is this mixture of natural talent and continued education that has converted Israel into a technological power.”
It might be added the IDF is about to introduce a new IQ and aptitude program to improve the placement of new recruits. The process begins in grade eleven through grade twelve. The idea is the recruits will end up in their most suitable units for their compulsory military service. This is why Israeli pilots are considered to be among the best in the world – they are repeatedly screened. This also applies to other volunteer combat units, such as the paratroopers, which has to select one out of four volunteers who are so highly motivated on wearing the coveted red beret.
Sometimes, but rarely, this motivation can backfire. One volunteer for the vaunted Sayeret Matkal special forces was accepted for the ‘weeding out’ course designed to separate the men from the boys. Like all volunteers he was given a date – his was to be the usual several months in the future. This enables them to get into the best shape possible.
However, he suddenly received an urgent notice that he would have to show up in another two weeks or else he would forfeit his chance. The young man, who had already passed the tough medical examination, then began his own private fitness program in order to compete with the other try-outs. The weeding out course is so grueling everyone knows you have to train beforehand to have any chance of being accepted. Limited to only a couple of weeks, our young man overdid it and died tragically of heart failure! The IDF is conducting an inquiry. Although he was not officially inducted into the IDF is it only fair and honorable that he considered as having fallen in action?