In an announcement on Sunday, Hezbollah revealed that one of its high-ranking members had been killed in what they claimed was an Israeli airstrike. According to reports, Samir Quntar was killed alongside eight others in Jaramana, a city near Damascus.
Quntar’s brother also confirmed the death via Twitter, referring to him as a martyr.
Here are five things to know about the high-profile commander.
1. In 1979, at the age of 16, Quntar and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated the Israeli village of Nahariya by sea from Lebanon. He took Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, Einat, hostage before allegedly killing them both. Haran’s wife accidentally smothered their other daughter to death while attempting to silence her so as not to reveal their hiding place.
2. He was sentenced to five life terms, plus 47 years for his role in the attack. He was convicted of killing an Israeli policeman who died during the incident, as well as Haran and his daughter. The official Israeli version of events stated that he shot Haran before smashing his daughter’s head on a rock, crushing her skull. He served 29 years in prison, making him the longest serving Arab prisoner of Israel.
3. He was released in 2008 in an exchange with Hezbollah, which saw the bodies of two Israeli soldiers returned home. He received a hero’s welcome back in Lebanon, where he eventually rose to be a high-ranking member of Hezbollah.
4. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad personally awarded Quntar the Syrian Order of Merit, the country’s highest medal, for his time spent in an Israeli prison.
5. Reports emerged in July that he had been killed in an airstrike alongside other fighters loyal to president Assad, however this was quickly denied. On that occasion, Quntar’s brother took to Twitter to announce that “Samir is fine.”
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