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December 20, 2015 3:42 pm

Russia Could Not Have Prevented Kuntar Assassination in Syria, Says Israeli National Security Analyst (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Russian airstrikes in Syria.  INSS expert says Russia could not have prevented the assassination of Hezbollah bigwig Samir Kuntar. Photo: Wikipedia.

Russian airstrikes in Syria. INSS expert says Russia could not have prevented the assassination of Hezbollah bigwig Samir Kuntar. Photo: Wikipedia.

The assassination of arch-terrorist and Hezbollah official Samir Kuntar early Sunday morning in Syria was not the settling of an old score, but rather a preventive measure against current activity, as well as a message to Russia, Mideast and Russia expert Zvi Magen told The Algemeiner on Sunday evening.

Magen, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, was referring to a Hezbollah announcement early Sunday that “Zionist enemy planes” had struck a building in the Jaramana district of Damascus, killing Kuntar and several civilians.

Because no official governmental or military source in Israel has confirmed or denied the attack, the Hebrew press is basing its coverage and commentary on “foreign media” reports. Magen, too, in his interview with The Algemeiner, prefaced each of his replies with “according to foreign reports.”

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One of these involved the technical aspects of the operation, which Israeli news website nrg suggested may not have been carried out by the Israel Air Force (IAF), but rather by advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles at Israel’s disposal on the Golan Heights, eliminating the risk of downed planes or pilots.

Another related to social media posts in Arabic — reported on by Israeli news outlets — mocking Russia for its inability to prevent the alleged Israeli strike on Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy organization that supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — who is also backed by Russia — against rebel forces in the current civil war.

Magen, who has served as Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine and Russia, responded to the above claims and complaints with a mixture of gravity and bemusement.

“I don’t know which method was used,” he said. “But there are four basic options: an IAF strike, which is not even that risky, considering the proximity; a drone strike; ground-to-ground missiles; or a special forces unit on the ground [inside Syria].”

He continued:

Sometimes armies purposely show off their technological advancements and intelligence-gathering skills for deterrence purposes – which makes certain operations more strategic than technical – and to show determination in the face of the enemy.

In the case of Syria, there are elements at work trying to establish themselves in the power arena – the Syrian government, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. And Iran is angry with Russia for this very reason.

Israel is engaging in tactical cooperation with Russia, to coordinate certain kinds of actions, as a way of preventing unintentional military mishaps. But Israel most certainly would not inform Russia of targets it intends to hit. And Israel certainly would make clear to Russia that it has its own interests that it will not relinquish. Its message to Russia is, ‘If we want to hit a target, nobody can or will prevent us from doing it.’

As for comments on Arabic social media taking issue with Russia’s inability to intercept or curb the alleged Israeli strike in Syria, Magen asserted that Israel has proven military and technological capabilities that even Russia couldn’t match.

Magen’s comments came on the heels of a Hezbollah missile barrage on northern Israel, apparently in retaliation for Saturday night’s assassination. Three missiles hit an open area in Nahariya in the Western Galilee, which incurred no casualties.

Kuntar, a Druze from Lebanon, became radicalized at a young age and joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was later recruited by Hezbollah and moved up in its ranks.

He became infamous in Israel when, at the age of 16, he infiltrated Nahariya on a raft from Lebanon with three other terrorists in 1979, shot a policeman and then broke into the apartment of the Haran family. Kuntar took the father, Danny, and his four-year-old daughter to the beach, where he shot and killed the father, then smashed the little girl’s head in with the butt of his rifle. Meanwhile, Smadar Haran — who had been hiding in a closet in the family home — accidentally smothered her two-year-old daughter, while trying to keep her safe.

For this crime, which sent the Jewish state into national mourning, Kuntar served nearly 30 years in jail. He and four other Hezbollah terrorists were released in 2008, as part of the prisoner swap Israel made with Hezbollah, in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were captured and killed in the 2006 Second War in Lebanon.

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  • ShaBak proved that within 24 hours, they could wipe out 12 of their leaders. NatanyaHu refused – world pressure costs Jewish lives AGAIN.

  • Fsmid

    A very good analysis of the tactical motives of this post Chanoeka present….. (the word goes that the 70 virgins whom are waiting in paradise are ugly old women with a burka, otherwise they wouldn’t be ontouched)

  • The Kulak

    Russia still has an ‘off switch’ that supposedly jammed all signals to the mighty IAF’s F-15Is back in September. This strike was probably carried out with a glide bomb, a stand off land attack missile (SLAM) or a ground to ground rocket, as the expert quoted in the article implies. All the Arabic taunting about S400s doing nothing against the invincible IAF aren’t even Israeli trolls, they’re probably trolling from Doha or Riyadh.

    Israeli media seems determined to keep making neocons in the U.S. who hate Russia feel better about the deal Bibi has struck with Putin, by promoting such attacks. Russia isn’t about to get sucked into the neocons wet dream of a war between them and Israel (and thus satisfy the pro-Israel Evangelical Christian Gog and Magog crowd) or the neocons who would be happy to see the Turks and Russians fighting. Putin is going to continue turning the other cheek unless the IAF/IDF do something really insane, which I doubt. Nobody said Israelis were as inclined to believe their own propaganda about the invincibility of their armed forces as the Turks, whose F-16s have been conspicuously staying away from the Syrian border areas since the Nov. 24 ambush. Oh and one more thing for neocons who gloated after the Russian plane was shot down — have you been paying any attention to how many Saudi bases are getting hit with old Soviet-made (and probably Ukrainian sold) Tochka missiles in Yemen and the southern part of Saudi Arabia? Do you really think the Iraqis couldn’t get a few of those and obliterate sultan Erdogan’s base outside Mosul, without a single Iraqi Shi’a miltiaman or IRGC adviser stepping into the Barzani Kurds territory?

    • EXPATRIATE IN SE ASIA

      Expatriate in SE ASIA : TRUMP /Putin 2016 USA needs a strong nationalist leader ASAP. Peace n Harmony Singapore HK

    • len

      1)Why is Russia in Syria?
      2)Why is Russia bombing non ISIS targets?
      3)Why is Russia supporting Assad?
      4)Why is Russia paving the way for NATO to copycat Russia and do in Ukraine what Russia is doing in Syria?
      Bold moves call for Bold criticism!
      Neocon or not!

  • Moredecai Ben Natan

    Why does Israel not introduce the death penalty for terrorist crimes?

    The Arabs think nothing of executing murderers, or people who leave Islam, to convert to Christianity
    if Israel would have the death penaly, they would not have had to exchange hundreds of killers for an Israeli captured by the cruel, heartless terrorists exchnage of story

    This ruthless murderer would have been hanged

    Now, he is hailed as a hero by the Arabs.
    This shows the mentality of the Arabs,

    Bash a four year old gilrs head in, with the butt of a rifle, and you are a hero.

    he is regarded as a “militant”not a “terrorist.”

  • shloime

    “those that talk don’t know, and those that know don’t talk.”

    aside from not knowing exactly what sort of weapon he was hit with, it’s also interesting to note that kuntar had become a liability for assad and hezbollah, as well as the russians, in as much as they’re not interested in open confrontation with israel, at least for the moment. and for that matter, possibly even for his own fellow druze, some of whom may be looking to israel for help.

    however it was done, may this be the first of many successful operations like it.

  • David Polovin

    Israel does not apply the death penalty even for egregious acts of terror against innocent civilians.The result is that Kuntar and others have lived to plot or carry out further acts again. Why is it different this time and why does Israel not have a consistent policy of permanently eliminating these murderers and terrorists at the first opportunity?

  • steven L

    Nasrallah the rat will get his due in time.

  • steven L

    What about a combo IL-US!!!! Iran is being warned repeatedly!

  • Golum

    To the LATE Kuntar and his brethren…”As you sow so shall you reap!!!”

    ….and the 70 soiled virgins are serving their sentences in a very warm place!!!

  • Golum

    To the LATE Kuntar and his brethren…”As you sow so shall you reap!!!”

    ….and the 70 soiled virgins are their sentences in a very warm place!!!

  • len

    So the big question here is why Israel let this animal out in the first place!A better exchange would have been his body for the bodies of the IDF soldiers.I think the present protocol of shooting terrorists on site after their attempts at taking lives will solve this problem for the future.Only the enemies of Israel,the Jews and of true Justice would have a problem with this and they are as much of the problem as the terrorists themselves.Their insidious complaints and demands in regards to Israels treatment of street terrorists just continue to breed the kind of behavior Israel is presently experiencing.

  • nelson marans

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Unfortunately it came too late to save many Israelis but better late than never for justice.

  • Alan Schlaifer

    Fascinating articles, including the one you wrote about the Kuntar assassination. Will probably order your book.

    Special reason, besides your excellent writing and analytic skills: my Mom’s maiden name was Ruth Blum. Small world, eh?

  • Menachem

    I hope his scumbag cousins all burn. While his removal will not bring back those he murdered, it will show the cowards who helped him the wrath of Israel shall be realized. NEVER AGAIN!

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