Israeli raid takes out senior Hezbollah militant near Syria capital
BEIRUT - A Lebanese militant notorious for the murder of three Israelis, including a four-year-old girl, has been killed in an Israeli air raid near the Syrian capital, his Hezbollah movement said.
Samir Kantar was freed by Israel as part of a prisoner swap in 2008, three decades after the killings, and he became a high-profile figure in Hezbollah.
In September, the United States placed Kantar on its terror blacklist, saying he had "played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hezbollah's terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights".
He was killed on Saturday night "when the Zionist enemy planes bombed the building where he lived in Jaramana," southeast of Damascus, the Lebanese Shiite militant group said in a statement.
The Syrian state news agency SANA reported the "martyrdom of... Samir Kantar last night in a terrorist raid on a residential building" on the southern outskirts of Jaramana.
It released a picture showing Syrian pro-government forces standing guard next to a partially collapsed building where Kantar was said to have been killed.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told military radio that Israel "has not claimed" the strike but "was happy to learn the news".
"He was an arch-terrorist who killed a young girl by fracturing her skull and had continued his terrorist activities after being freed," she said. "It's a good thing he met his maker."
Kantar's brother Bassem confirmed the militant's death on Twitter, saying: "We are proud to have joined the long list of families of martyrs."
Kantar, who had earned the title of longest-serving Arab prisoner in Israel, was still a teenager when he and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated the Israeli village of Nahariya by sea from Lebanon.
The militants shot dead Danny Haran, 28, and battered his daughter Einat's skull with rifle butts in an attack that shocked Israel to the core.
He was sentenced to five life terms plus 47 years for murdering Haran, Einat and an Israeli policeman.