Lebanese militant killed in Syria airstrike,says Hezbollah

Samir Kantar, the longest-held Lebanese prisoner in Israel, has been killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a residential building near the Syrian capital, the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group said today.

Hezbollah said Kantar, known in Lebanon as “The Dean of Lebanese Prisoners” for spending nearly three decades in Israel, was killed along with eight others in the strike in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana last night.

Kantar was imprisoned in 1979 in Israel after he was convicted of murder in an attack that left an Israeli policeman, a father and his two children dead. He was long wanted in Israel for the attack considered one of the grisliest in Israeli history.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Kantar and four Hezbollah guerrillas were freed in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in 2006, whose capture sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Kantar’s release was highly controversial in Israel, where he is believed to be the perpetrator of one of the most notorious attacks in Israeli history.

He was sentenced to three life terms after he and three other Lebanese infiltrated Israel in 1979 and staged an attack in the northern coastal town of Nahariya.

An Israeli court convicted Kantar of killing a policeman and then kidnapping a man and his 4-year-old daughter and killing them outside their home.

Israel says Kantar, who was 16 at the time, brutally beat the girl to death by bashing her head with a rifle. He denies this, saying the girl was killed in the crossfire.

As the attack unfolded, the girl’s mother hid inside a crawl space inside their home and accidentally smothered their crying 2-year-old daughter, fearing Kantar would find them.

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