Did an Opposition Lawmaker Implicate Israel in Samir Kuntar's Assassination?

A statement on Saturday by Zionist Union MK Omer Bar-Lev has been interpreted as an acknowledgement that Israel assassinated the notorious terrorist and Hezbollah operative.

Samir Kuntar attending a rally at Ain al-Tineh village on the Syrian side in the Golan Heights, opposite Majdal Shams, in November 2008.
Reuters

A statement by opposition Knesset member Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) on Saturday has been understood as implying that Israel was behind the assassination of senior Hezbollah operative Samir Kuntar last December.

Kuntar spent almost 30 years in an Israeli prison for participating in one of the country's most horrific terror attacks – the killing of three members of an Israeli family in Nahariya in April 1979.

Oren Nachshon

He was released in a prison exchange in 2008 and died in an airstrike on Damascus last December.

During a town hall meeting in Beer Sheba on Saturday, Bar-Lev was questioned about recent threats by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to attack chemical facilities in Haifa.

"I wouldn't advise Nasrallah to leave his bunker," Bar-Lev responded. "On a personal level, if I can give him advice, he should continue to look out for himself."

The questioner then asked whether the assassination of Kuntar was a great success for Israel.

"It was, certainly," Bar-Lev answered. "Because Israel has a long memory. I was still a young officer and I was ordered to Nahariya, where Kuntar had committed the attack and killed the Haran family. So my own memory is also long. Let's leave it there."

"Is that a message for Nasrallah?" the questioner asked.

"It certainly is a message for Nasrallah," Bar-Lev said.

Later, Bar-Lev took to Twitter to try to downplay the comments, saying "every hit and every terrorist that finds their death is welcomed, regardless of whether we had a hand in it or not."

Bar-Lev also referred to Saturday's events on the Gaza border, in which an alert that terrorists may have breached the border was followed by the arrest of three unarmed Palestinians in Israel.

"The situation in Gaza is not good," he said. "Two or three weeks ago, Bibi said that if terrorists surprise us and pop out of tunnels, we will respond harshly.

"Since when do we only respond when we are attacked? A tunnel that crosses into Israel is an attack on the sovereignty of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to respond with power to such an attack on its sovereignty.