April 17, 2009

Fresh doubt over Kuntar's monster status

Remember how Gabriel Ash cast doubt on the conviction of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze who joined the Palestinian resistance as a teenager and wound up spending 30 years in an Israeli jail, accused of being "monster who shot a hostage in the back and then smashed the skull of his 4 year old daughter". He was re-demonised when he was released in 2008 as part of the deal following Israel's defeat in Lebanon back in 2006. In fact Gabriel managed to elicit hatred towards good ol' JSF from the Jewish Chronicle over that:

“Now, if [Samir] Kuntar did what he was accused of, then he is no doubt a monster. But did he? The facts leave ample room for doubts. Kuntar maintains he did not kill either of his two alleged victims... i’ll believe it either way when the evidence is stronger than the say-so of israel’s racist, corrupt and cavalier court system.”

Well now fresh doubt is cast on the conviction by former senior Israeli police officer who is now a consultant psychologist, Dr. Zvi Sela in Ha'aretz. You have to scroll way down the article to find this:
You also met with Samir Kuntar of the Palestine Liberation Front, who murdered members of the Haran family in Nahariya and was released as part of the deal with Hezbollah that brought back the bodies of the two abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

"We turned Kuntar into God-knows-what - the murderer of Danny Haran and his daughter, Einat. The man who smashed in the girl's head. That's nonsense. A story. A fairy tale. He told me he didn't do it and I believe him. I investigated the event within the framework of the next book I am writing, about hostage-taking incidents. As far as I am concerned, it was no more than a newspaper report. I sat with him; he was very intelligent. He was a squad commander at 17. He told me that his motive for infiltrating Nahariya was to take hostages. He said [his organization] knew that would both humiliate Israel and get them media publicity.

"He told me: 'If I had wanted to kill Danny and his daughter, I would have shot them in the house. I took them to the boat because I wanted hostages. I had no interest in hurting them. After I got them into the boat, wild gunfire started and I went back to help my squad on the shore. Danny, the father, kept shouting, "Stop firing, you crazy people." He and his daughter were found shot in the boat. I was on a small rise, shooting at your forces, and the boat was 20 meters away in the water, with Danny and the girl.'"

So you say that Kuntar did not murder Haran and his daughter?

"That is what he says, and in my opinion there is support for the fact that they were killed by fire from the Israeli rescue forces. You can accuse him all you like, but it was obviously the rescue forces that opened fire. There were all kinds of legends about Kuntar. People also said that he would return to being a terrorist [after his release]. Nonsense. He told me then explicitly that he would not go back to terrorism, that he was too old to execute operations - and that's also clear. For the same reason, I see no problem in releasing terrorists with blood on their hands in return for [kidnapped soldier] Gilad Shalit. I get the feeling the country is waiting for his body.

"It is clear to me," Sela continues, "that there are some battles you have to back away from. There is no reason to kill that kid, to wait for his body. One way or the other, we will not come out the victors in the Shalit story. From my experience, most of the terrorists that we release do not return to terrorist activity. And the prisoners we are quarreling over in connection with Shalit's release do not constitute a strategic threat to Israel - only a blow to the ego of our leaders."
And a blow to the Jewish Chronicle apparently.


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