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Hundreds of Druze living on the Golan Heights gathered yesterday at the "Shouting Hill" near the village of Majdal Shams to see and express support for Samir Kuntar. Kuntar, who was released from prison in Israel after 29 years as part of a prisoner exchange in July, is currently visiting Syria.

On their way to the hill, large numbers of Druze marched through the center of Majdal Shams. Little girls carried a picture of Kuntar, who in 1979 murdered Einat Haran, 4, and her father Danny, during a Nahariya terror attack.

From the Syrian side of the border, Kuntar expressed support for the demand by Golan Druze to return to Syrian rule.

Among those participating in the rally, which took place late yesterday morning, were the head of the northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, and MK Said Naffaa (Balad).

"The purpose of the gathering was to enable Samir Kuntar to express his respect for the residents of the Golan Heights for holding fast against the Israeli occupation for 40 years," Naffaa said. "The gathering contains no message about changing the means of the struggle and the resistance to the occupation. The people of the Golan have their own correct and legitimate way."

Kuntar told the crowd - who included an estimated 200 Syrians, in addition to the 400 or so Druze on the Israeli side of the border - that he came to them fresh from a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "He seeks to tell you that everything that our people want, they will receive. We will not be stingy with the people of the Golan. I tell you with all certainty that Bashar Assad will raise the Syrian flag over the Golan, and soon. You are the real resistors, even more than me. Lift up your heads, because this people loves the resistance," Kuntar said.

Turning to Salah and Naffaa, Kuntar congratulated them and Israel's Arab citizens. He told his audience on the Israeli side that he brought a message to them from Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah: "He says to you, 'We are waiting for a single mistake from the Zionists. The freedom fighters are waiting for you below the ground.'"

Israel Defense Forces observers monitored the proceedings from afar.