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Israeli Rockets Killed Infamous Terrorist Samir Quntar in Damascus

By DEBKAfile &

Syrian and Hizbullah media confirmed that Israeli rocket fire from four air force jets early Sunday, Dec. 20, destroyed a building in the eastern Jaramana district of Damascus and killed Samir Quntar, head of Hizbullah terror networks in southern Syria and the Golan.

Footage showed a multi-storey residential building collapsed and rescue workers digging through the rubble for survivors. In addition to Quntar, Issam Sha'alan, a senior commander of the National Syrian Golan Resistance Organization was also killed. This organization was established by Syrian intelligence for terrorist operations against Israel.

Several rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel sending off air raid sirens in the country after Quntar was killed. Lebanese media quoted security sources as saying at least two rockets were launched, while Israeli newspapers said up to four exploded in the north of the country.

No casualties or damages were reported as the missiles exploded in open areas near Nahariya, with one that reportedly fell in the sea. Israel Defense Forces tweeted, "A short while ago, sirens sounded in northern Israel. Initial report suggests three rockets hit northern Israel. Forces searching the area."

Israel remembers Quntar for the exceptionally vicious murder of a family in Nahariya in 1979. He was released by Israel in 2008 in a controversial swap in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli reservists killed by Hizbullah in 2006.

Qantar had been planning a major terror attack against Israel in the Golan Heights area just before his elimination, Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday, based on "the most reliable Western sources."

Qantar had established himself over the past year as a "ticking time bomb" and independent source of terror attacks against Israel, the sources stated, noting that both Israelis and sources in the Arab world confirmed this information from their viewpoints. According to those same sources, Qantar has not been associated with Hizbullah for some time now - instead, operating under even more extreme groups, dubbed the Syrian National Defense Committees.

DEBKAfile's military and counterterrorism sources report that in the last two years, Quntar established a network of terrorist cells in all of southern Syria on behalf of three masters: Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hizbullah and the Assad regime's Military Intelligence Agency.

In Tehran and Damascus, his mission was defined as "establishing commando units for special operations." Those units were in fact hit-cum-terror squads. His territory ranged from Jebel Druze in southeast Syria up to the Druze villages of the Syrian Hermon range and the Syrian Golan including Quneitra.

In the past year, he recruited scores of Syrian Druze to fight for Bashar Assad and was able to prevent the Druze community from joining the rebel forces fighting the Assad regime in southern Syria. He was outstandingly successful in thwarting every US-Jordanian-Israeli action for deploying an effective military force to the rear of the Syrian army in the South.

The renegade Druze terrorist additionally mustered Druze recruits to his terror cells in 30 villages on the Hermon opposite IDF positions. These cells were responsible for the intermittent short-range rocket fire into the Israeli Golan and Galilee. They caused slight damage but they were an effective stratagem in his drive to plant his spies in the Druze villages and turn them against relations with the IDF and Syrian rebel forces.

Quntar acted under the direct command of the Al Qods Brigades chief the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, after he was appointed commander of Iranian forces in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and Mustafa Badr, Al-Din, head of Hizbullah forces in Syria.

He was recently promoted to take charge of building a combined terrorist network of Syrians, Hizbullah commandos and Palestinians for mounting incursions deep into Israel for major terrorist attacks. His transfer from southern Syria to a high security residential building I Damascus attested to his enhanced status.

On April 22, 1979, at the age of 16, as a Lebanese Druze member of the Palestinian Liberation Front, Quntar perpetrated a vicious terrorist attack in Nahariya that ended in the murder of an Israeli policeman, the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family and the death of four Israelis and two of his fellow kidnappers.

Quntar and his team reached the northern Israeli coastal town by boat from Lebanon, broke into an apartment building and kidnapped a father, 31-year-old Danny Haran, and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat. He took them to the beach, shot the father in the back and smashed in the head of the child. The mother, Smadar Haran, who hid in a crawl space in the house with her two-year-old daughter Yael, accidentally suffocated Yael to death while trying to quiet her.

Quntar was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In November 2008, after his release from Israel in a prisoner swap for two Israeli reservists killed by Hizbullah, Syrian president Bashar Assad presented Quntar with a Syrian medal and in early 2009 he was honored by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On 8 September 2015, the United States Department of State designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

Four Arrested as Hundreds Riot Over Duma Suspects' Treatment


Hundreds of people rioted in Jerusalem Sunday night, over the unusually cruel interrogation methods the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) have employed against a group of youths arrested on suspicions of an arson attack in Duma in July.

Rabbi Dov Lior, rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, spoke to protestors at the site. "It cannot be that Jews are cruel to Jews," he said. "Cruelty is being allowed to run rampant. There are people who feel the pain of their brothers," he continued. "We are blessed that we have a healthy generation of young people like this."

Four people have been arrested during the riots, the Honenu legal rights organization stated Sunday night. An Arutz Sheva reporter at the scene was also attacked by police during the tumult.

Earlier Sunday, it was revealed that ISA torture of the suspects has been so severe that one of the youths has attempted suicide. Damning audio evidence surfaced of the suspect begging for mercy and revealing several torture methods - including having his hands burnt, being kept awake all night, and having his back pummeled to the point of needing medical attention - but the ISA denied all charges of wrongdoing.

One of the youths the ISA arrested in the controversial case showed signs of depression before the court hearing, it was revealed Sunday, and the district psychiatrist ordered him under close observation. The psychiatric counselor determined that the suicidal suspect had been driven into severe depression and traumatic stress as a result of the investigation; he also had been prescribed sleeping pills by a doctor in his detention center due to sleep deprivation related to interrogation and torture.

The youth begged Justice Erez Nurieli at every court session to have mercy and release him from the ISA due to the treatment, it was also revealed. "I beg Your Honor, I cannot endure this," the youth stated, in a recording that was played back to the boy's family. "Does the court have a way to control the investigation?"

"They hung me upside down by hands and burned them," he continued. "I feel like they're burning me up. Every day it gets worse and I don't know what tomorrow will bring." Testimony also revealed that the ISA kicked the youth in the chest while he was handcuffed with his head bent, stopping him from breathing for a few minutes. He was also kicked several more times. At the time, the youth asked to consult with his lawyer, and was refused; he was also forced to listen to music on Shabbat as he was interrogated, which is forbidden on Shabbat day.

The torture only grew worse, he revealed, to the point where the ISA kept him up most nights torturing him. They repeatedly demanded names and a confession, with the youth stating repeatedly that he has none to offer because he is not involved in the case.

Among other things, the ISA spent an entire night flogging the youth's back, he said, and begged the judge for medical treatment and legal counsel. The judge asked if the youth was taking the psychiatric medication prescribed to him, but he responded that the cure is not a pill to numb the pain, but stopping the torture.

"I would confess to everything, but I don't know how - I don't have what to tell them," he cried. He added that while he had a lawyer working on his behalf, the legal counsel was useless without the right to meet with him personally. "My lawyer has no idea what to do with me, since they hit my back all night," he said. "I asked them, 'kill me - give me poison.' Your Honor, I cannot endure anymore."

The ISA insisted late Sunday night that the organization, as a government organization, conducts all interrogations according to the letter of the law. "ISA interrogations are conducted in accordance with the law and case law, and are overseen by the Attorney General, the State Attorney's Office and the courts," it said. "The claim that one of the detainees tried to commit suicide is baseless."

The dramatic announcement comes just hours after the Shin Bet claimed to have made "significant progress" in the investigation into the deadly arson attack, which killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabshe family.

Outrage over the handling of the Duma case has snowballed after it was revealed the suspects had reportedly been refused basic religious rights such as lighting Chanukah candles, been banned from seeing their lawyers or family, and that at least one has been denied medical treatment after being beaten during arrest. Recently, a suspect was even denied clean underwear.

Civil rights groups have called for the ISA to be investigated over the torture, which - if proven - may run contrary to Israeli law. In one case, the ISA was found to have illegally detained one of the suspects, a minor, for longer than the 20 days mandated by law.

Both Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) have admitted there is no evidence against the suspects to stand them on trial, raising fears that the brutal investigation is meant to force the suspects to make false confessions.

Venezuelan Father, Son Kidnapped On the Way to Synagogue


Unknown assailants kidnapped a father and son near a Venezuela Chabad House over Shabbat, Kikar Hashabbat reported Sunday, and were released after the community paid ransom.

The two were on their way to morning services Saturday morning when local gunmen grabbed them, according to the daily. A short time later, relatives noticed their absence, and contacted the police after it was evident the two were kidnapped.

The kidnappers made contact with the father's brother, and announced a ransom demand. Another son, aged 15, and an 8 year-old daughter stayed by a local family until the two were released. After negotiations ensued between the kidnappers and Chabad representatives, the ransom was paid and the father and son released.

Dozens of Americans With Ties to Israel Denied Military Jobs Due to 'Divided Loyalties'


Many Americans with ties to Israel have been denied security clearances necessary to work for the Defense Department or the United States military, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal reported.

Stephens reported on the case of Gershon Pincus, a dentist, who after 35 years in private practice started a second career as a dentist for the Navy as a way "to assist those who have chosen to serve in the United States military." In October of 2014 Pincus underwent an interview for a security clearance and mentioned that his mother and two siblings live in Israel, and one of his children had previously served in the Israeli army. He acknowledged that he had visited Israel three times in the previous decade. The security investigation concluded that Pincus was not a security risk.

However, in March of this year the Office of Personnel Management called him back for a follow-up interview in which his ties to Israel were questioned. A few months later, Pincus' request for a clearance was officially denied, on the grounds that his contact with relatives in Israel "may be a security concern due to divided loyalties or foreign financial interests."

Thirty-six of the 58 petitioners whose clearances were denied on account of ties to Israel since 2009 have had their appeals rejected. During the same time, only one French citizen had his appeal denied and no British citizens had their appeals denied.

American Jews being denied security clearances because of their ties to Israel has been an issue since Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was convicted in 1987 for passing state secrets to Israel. Since then, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "A number of Jews have long alleged that they hit speed bumps in the American security services, their careers in some cases temporarily obstructed over security clearance questions."

For others, accusations of espionage based on ties to Israel, however remote, have driven them from their jobs following home raids and round-the-clock surveillance. Two federal employees — Adam Ciralsky, a CIA lawyer who was investigated in 1999, and David Tenenbaum, a civilian army engineer whose home was raided by the FBI in 1997 — uncovered evidence that they were targeted because they were Jewish.

Ciralsky learned that his distant relationship to Israel's first and long dead president, Chaim Weizmann, and the fact that his father had purchased Israel Bonds were held against him. Tenenbaum was deemed suspicious in part because he spoke Hebrew even though it was helpful in performing his official duties as a liaison to Israeli counterparts.

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