Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Post
HEADLINE: Hizbullah repeats threat to cancel deal; kidnap Israelis
BYLINE: JPOST.COM STAFF
Hizbullah's repeated Sunday that if Israel does not release Samir Kuntar - one of the terrorists who murdered the Haran family in Nahariya over 20 years ago - in the upcoming prisoner exchange, the Hizbullah would call off the entire deal.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stated that Kuntar would not be included in the deal.
In Lebanon, Hizbullah officials threatened to kidnap more Israelis if the deal collapses.
Mohammed Fneish, a Hizbullah legislator, "If the pressure cards we have ... are not sufficient to convince the Israeli enemy's government to respect the freedom of our detainees ..., the Hizbullah command will definitely search for means to force the Israeli enemy's government to release our detainees," he told Al Manar TV.
The Israeli defense establishment has maintained the criteria that only Lebanese prisoners involved in attacks against Israeli installations in Southern Lebanon may be included in the exchange list, and not those who perpetrated attacks within Israel.
Lebanese TV on Sunday aired interviews with the relatives of Dirani, Obeid and Kuntar. Kuntar's son told the interviewer that Hizbullah had promised the return of his father, or the entire deal woul not go through.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said in response to Hizbullah's demand that Israel too had "red lines" it would not cross. "Prime Minister Sharon said that Kuntar's release is out of the question. The murder of a family in Israel is unforgivable. I oppose his release," Shalom said.
"I hope the other side understands that there are limits to the demands they place on us," the Foreign Minister added.
On Saturday, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah confirmed an earlier Hizbullah report in Friday's edition of the Lebanese A-Safir daily newspaper in which sources said that the Shiite group would call off the exchange if Kuntar is not included.
"Any swap that excludes any of the Lebanese detainees will not be acceptable to us and will not happen," Nasrallah said during a Hizbullah-hosted Ramadan fast-breaking meal at sunset Saturday, Associated Press.
"I say to the (Israeli) enemy government ... that the first name on the list must be Samir Kantar."
According to Israel Army Radio, the Lebanese sources said "Israel's refusal [to release Kuntar] endangers the entire deal since it contradicts the terms of the agreement, which calls for the release of all Lebanese prisoners."
Reacting to Hizbullah's threat to torpedo the deal, Smadar Haran, who lost a husband and two children in the attack, said in an interview Friday morning that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah "achieves sadistic pleasure in setting the families of terror victims against each-other."
On Israel Radio, Haran added that over the past year, Nasrallah has been waging "psychological warfare" against the citizens of Israel by "cynically and cruelly manipulating the tragedies of Israelis."
On April 22, 1979, Kuntar and three other Palestinian terrorists from Lebanon infiltrated Israel by sea at the Nahariya coast. The four broke into the Haran family's apartment and took 28-year old Danny Haran and his four-year old daughter Einat hostage, intending to take them back to Lebanon.
Smadar Haran hid in the home's attic, holding her two-year old daughter Yael in her arms and trying to keep the girl quiet. Smadar blocked Yael's mouth with her hand to keep the little girl from crying out and alerting the terrorists to their presence in the attic.
Tragically, the little girl choked to death in her mother's arms. Smadar watched her family being viciously murdered.
Meanwhile the terrorists made off with Danny and Einat towards the sea, intending to take them back to Lebanon. Police forces and soldiers pursued them, and during the exchange of fire a police officer, Sgt. Eliyahu Shahar, was killed. The terrorists killed Danny and Einat.
Yakir Shahar, the son of Sgt. Eliyahu Shahar, the policeman killed by Samir Kuntar and his associates in the 1979 rampage in Nahariya, camped outside the Prime Minister's office Sunday morning and called on cabinet ministers not to release his father's murderer by supporting the prisoner exchange deal.
Kuntar was captured and sentenced to 542 years for his part in the attack.
A senior diplomatic official said, "it is very clear that this man [Kuntar] will not be released."
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