MK Bar-Lev: Israel Behind Kuntar’s Assassination

YERUSHALAYIM -
This photo released Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows the damaged building where Samir Kantar was believed to be killed along with several others Saturday night in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, Syria. Kantar a Lebanese who was convicted of executing one of the most notorious attacks in Israeli history and spent nearly three decades in an Israeli prison, has been killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a residential building near the Syrian capital, the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group said Sunday. (SANA via AP)
The damaged building where Samir Kuntar was killed, in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, Syria, Dec. 20, 2015. (SANA via AP)

A slip up or official confirmation?

Although at the time of his death, in late December, Israel neither confirmed nor denied it, Zionist Camp MK Omer Bar-Lev slipped up on Motzoei Shabbos, saying the IDF was indeed behind the assassination of Hizbullah terrorist Samir Kuntar.

During a cultural event in Be’er Sheva, Bar-Lev was asked about the topic, and when one of the other attendees crowned the assassination as “a great success for Israel,” Bar-Lev responded with, “True, definitely.”

Bar-Lev, a former commander of the elite reconnaissance unit Sayeret Matkal, then went on to say that “Israel has a long-term memory. As a young IDF officer I was called to the scene of that attack in Nahariya, where the terrorist tried to bargain for the hostages, and killed the members of the Haran family. So I have long-term memory as well, and this is definitely a message for [Hizbullah terrorist leader] Nasrallah.”

“I would not recommend Nasrallah leave his bunker,” said Bar-Lev. “Why? Because he’s an enemy and he’s a target. On a personal level, I would advise him to look after himself.”

Later on, Bar-Lev asked to “leave it at that.”

After his comments made headlines on Motzoei Shabbos, Bar-Lev issued a clarification: “When I was asked whether this was an Israeli operation, I said I would not get into [discussing] operational activities. Every assassination and every terrorist killed is a welcomed act, and it doesn’t matter whether Israel had a hand in it or not.”

Jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid that killed four people, Kuntar went free in 2008 under a prisoner swap with the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah. It is believed he then joined Hizbullah, which is active in Syria.

Kuntar was killed when a number of rockets hit a building in the Damascus district of Jaramana. Government loyalists and Hizbullah sources claimed the blasts were an Israeli strike.

While formally staying out of Syria’s civil war, Israel has occasionally bombed targets there in what security sources say is an effort to prevent Hizbullah from obtaining advanced arms from Damascus or attacking Israelis from within Syrian territory.