Update: Kuntar apparently survived the July attack. On Sept. 8, the State Department designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, freezing any assets he may have in the United States and making it illegal for people in the U.S. to engage in business or provide Kuntar with any support.An Israeli airstrike Wednesday reportedly killed a senior Hizballah operative in the Golan Heights; a man considered one of the most reviled terrorists in Israeli history.
Samir Kuntar reportedly was among five men killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian Druze village Hader. That community is considered strongly loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad
Kuntar was among five prisoners Israel released in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Kuntar was 16 years old in 1979, when he and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) sneaked into Israel, killing a policeman and kidnapping a man and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat Haran. Kuntar killed the little girl by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Compounding the tragedy, Haran's other daughter, a 2-year-old, was accidentally suffocated by her mother as she tried to keep the girl from crying out as they hide from the terrorists in their apartment.
Upon his release, Kuntar said he regretted nothing and received a hero's welcome in Lebanon. More recently, Kuntar was a senior Hizballah official in the Syrian Golan Heights and was suspected of plotting attacks against Israeli soldiers and planting bombs along the border with Israel.
Last month, Israeli Druze officials blamed Kuntar for an attack on an IDF ambulance, and the lynching of a wounded Syrian fighter inside it. It was seen as an attempt to lure Israel into Syria's bloody civil war.
Eyal Zisser, a Syrian expert at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told the Jerusalem Post that Wednesday's strike that killed Kuntar was "a tactical matter" that "sends a clear message from Israel not to cross a redline and not to mess with us."
It wasn't the first message directed at Hizballah and its Syrian allies. Earlier this month, Israel was blamed for a car bomb that killed Kuntar's "right hand man" Mwafaq Badiyeh. Syrian rebels fighting Hizballah-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad say they killed Badiyeh in battle.
A second Israeli airstrike Wednesday targeted a military base near the Lebanon-Syria border that Syrian state television said belonged to the PFLP.
Israeli officials have not commented on the strikes.