Two Buddies Get Together in an Israeli Terrorist Jail
Thousands of copies of this photo, which was secreted from Ashkelon’s Hadarim prison, were eagerly seized by ordinary Palestinians on the West Bank for whom Marwan Barghouti is something of an icon. The Fatah leader, jailed for life for the murder of five Israelis in terrorist operations, appears on the left. With him is another lifer, Samir Kuntar, a Druze from the Lebanese village of Baaklin, who is serving time for the 1979 Nahariya bloodbath.
One night in April 26 years ago, Kuntar and three accomplices landed at the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya from the sea, seized Danny Haran, 28, and his daughter Einat, 4, from their home. They shot Danny dead and smashed the child’s head on a rock. Danny’s wife Smadar survived but while hiding in a closet from the killers, she accidentally smothered to death their 2-year old daughter, Yael. Police Sgt. Eliahu Sassar rushed to the rescue and was shot dead.
The photo of the two smiling killers was no doubt smuggled out of the prison by one of the senior Palestinian Fatah officials allowed to call on Barghouti in his cell by Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz. The Palestinian appears on the photo in the company of a likeminded advocate of “the struggle,” after setting up a breakaway Fatah list in defiance of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
At the time, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian took responsibility for the Haran murders. Then, as now, such claims often disguised the real hand behind the atrocities. It was later found to be that of Abu Abbas, head of the Arab Front for the Liberation of Palestine and one of Yasser Arafat’s stooges.
The link came to light in the early 2000s when Abu Abbas transferred with this organization to Baghdad. Until the US invasion of Iraq, he officiated as Arafat’s liaison officer with Saddam Hussein and managed West Bank Palestinian terrorist groups’ ties with Iraqi military intelligence. In 2003, the Americans captured him and he did in prison in Iraq.
But to this day, the Lebanese Druze Kuntar’s role remains enigmatic. He was the only Lebanese in the Palestinian killer-gang in Nahariya. In 1985, he was the only one named out of the 50 prisoners in Israeli jails whose freedom Abu Abbas demanded when he hijacked the Italian cruise vessel Achille Lauro in 1985 on Arafat’s orders. It was then that he murdered Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew, by throwing him overboard in his wheelchair.
In 2004, the Lebanese Hizballah demanded Kuntar’s release in a prisoner swap that included the bodies of three Israeli soldiers and Elhanan Tannenboim from a Lebanese prison. Israel agreed to let Kuntar go only upon delivery of solid information on the fate of the long-missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad. No information was ever handed over. So Kuntar stays under lock and key.
In all his years behind bars, the Lebanese killer never showed the slightest remorse for his crime. His importance is such that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah never misses a chance of raising his case. He is also important enough to be chosen as Barghouti’s buddy in a joint photograph for circulation among the Palestinian voting public.