Israel to Free Child Killer

• Views: 2,380

The rationale for prisoner exchanges like this may be understandable, but it doesn’t make the reality any less nauseating: Israel to Free Prisoners.

One of the prisoners being released to Lebanon is cold-blooded, remorseless child killer Samir Kuntar.

JERUSALEM, June 29 — Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved a rare prisoner swap with the Shiite militia Hezbollah, agreeing to free a convicted murderer and others in exchange for two Israeli soldiers who are believed to be dead.

The soldiers — Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev — were captured in a 2006 cross-border raid by Hezbollah. The abduction sparked a month-long war in which Israel bombarded Lebanon from the air and Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into northern Israel. The fighting killed more than 1,000 Lebanese and 159 Israelis.

While Israel has long said it did not know the fate of Goldwasser and Regev, on Sunday the government acknowledged that they had almost certainly died during the raid or shortly thereafter. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged his cabinet to back the deal, saying it “will bring an end to this painful episode — even at the painful price it costs us.”

The cabinet’s approval, 22 to 3, came after a six-hour debate that mirrored a wrenching public discussion over whether such an exchange would invite more attempts to capture Israelis. The soldiers’ families countered that the state had an obligation not to leave its men on the battlefield.

The government prides itself on taking a hard line against groups such as Hezbollah that are considered terrorist organizations. But with military service compulsory in Israel, there is a visceral identification with the plight of missing soldiers and their families. …

Officials expect the latest deal to be completed within two weeks. By Sunday night, Hezbollah was boasting about the exchange, with one leader calling it “proof that the word of the resistance is the most faithful, strongest and supreme.”

For Hezbollah, the centerpiece is Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese convicted by an Israeli court in a 1979 attack that ended in the deaths of three members of an Israeli family. Kuntar, then 16, shot and killed Danny Haran in front of his 4-year-old daughter, and then smashed her head with his rifle butt. Haran’s wife accidentally smothered their 2-year-old daughter as she attempted to quiet the girl in their hiding space. Two Israeli policeman also were killed.

On Sunday, Smadar Haran Kaiser said she was devastated by Israel’s decision but understood it. “The despicable murderer Kuntar was never my own personal prisoner, but the state’s prisoner,” she said at a news conference. “Even if my soul should be torn, and it is torn, my heart is whole.”

Previously at LGF:
The World Should Know

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