Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Post
HEADLINE: Nasrallah: No deal without Haran family murderer
BYLINE: JPOST.COM STAFF
Hizbullah's leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced Saturday night 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.
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 Saturday night, 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."
Sharon is confident a slim majority of cabinet ministers will vote at Sunday's cabinet meeting to approve the emotionally-charged prisoner exchange with Hizbullah, senior government officials said Saturday night.
Israel Radio reported Saturday night that four ministers were still wavering - Health Minister Dan Naveh, Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Minister Without Portfolio Meir Sheetrit, and Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni.
A spokesman for Lieberman said he will only make up his mind after hearing from the heads of the security services at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
The cabinet, according to government officials, will be asked to vote on the principle of the prisoner exchange, without going into either the names or the numbers of the prisoners to be released. "The debate and the resolution that will come up for a vote will be on the principles of the deal, not on specifics," one official said.
The ministers will be briefed by Shin Bet head Avi Dichter and Mossad head Meir Dagan, who are expected to warn that the exchange may lead to more kidnappings, and by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon and OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) who are expected to support it, and warn of the ramifications of not going through with the agreement.
It is widely believed that in exchange for Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the remains of the three kidnapped IDF soldiers - Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan, and Omar Sawayid - Israel is expected to release some 400 Palestinians prisoners, none of them with blood on their hands, and some 20 Lebanese prisoners, some of whom committed terrorist acts against Israelis on Lebanese soil.
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. This would prelude the release of Samir Kuntar, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
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.
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."
Education Minister Limor, who flew to the US Saturday night for meetings, deposited her vote with the cabinet secretariat and reportedly voted against the deal. She reportedly voted against it for two reasons: because of the fear that it would encourage more kidnappings, and because after reading sections of the Winograd Commission Report on missing airman Ron Arad, she came to the conclusion that it would not be ethical to abandon him.
The deal would include Hizbullah leader Sheikh Omar Karim Obeid and former Amal security chief Mustafa Dirani, who have been held as bargaining chips for some 20 years in the hope they could be exchanged for Arad, or could be used to help obtain information about his whereabouts.
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