Sunday, June 29, 2008

"I won't let Hizzbollah use me"

In 1979 Samir Kuntar who murdered her family, now Smadar Haran refuses to let her personal tragedy impede the return of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. 'I don’t have a monopoly over pain, suffering or justice,’ she says, asking gov't to do what is best for Israel, not her

Roni Lifshitz
Israel News

“It is very difficult for me to be here today, I am here despite the difficulty. Kidnappings cause ongoing pain and torment for all those involved," began Smadar Haran as she addressed a press conference on Sunday while the cabinet voted on a proposal to release Samir Kuntar, the man who murdered her husband and two young girls, in exchange of captive Israeli soldiers. "Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s cynical tactic is to use victims in order to cause division, to split the public and to use the Israeli media as a sound horn and speakers for his manipulations,” said Haran.

“For this reason, I decided not to respond. I am not willing to be utilized by them. It raises the price that the other side demands.

“I don’t’ have a monopoly on pain, suffering or justice. This is a horrible test and I am gathering all my strength in order to sustain this.” Haran described her pain saying, “On my way here I stopped at the graves of my family members. My heart broke when I thought that their murderer is going to be released. This is a very said and painful day for me.”

‘Vile murderer not my private prisoner’
During Sunday's cabinet meeting, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter presented the ministers with a letter written by Smadar Haran, Danny's widow, in which she said she had no objections to Kuntar's release.

"The despicable, vile murderer Samir Kuntar isn’t, nor has he ever been, my private prisoner. Kuntar is a prisoner of the State, which sentenced him to five terms if life imprisonment for his vicious crimes," she wrote.

"His fate must be decided now, according to Israel's best defensive needs and moral interests, which should serve the people of Israel, now and in the future.

"I ask that my own personal pain not be taken into account when you deliberate, despite its significance and implications. I cannot overlook the pain and suffering of the Goldwasser and Regev families, or the moral debt I have to all those who have worked for my safety.

"I have given this matter a great deal of thought, and as hard as it may be, I will not oppose any decision made (by the government). No matter how hard it may be, my mind is at peace," wrote Smadar Haran.

‘Our incident belongs to Israel’
"The mere thought that Kuntar might be freed makes my stomach turn," said Roni Keren Sunday. Terrorist Samir Kuntar was jailed 29 years ago for killing Keren's brother, Danny Haran, and his two daughters, Einat and Yael.

Any prisoner exchange deal which would result in Kuntar's release would carry "severe consequences," warned Keren: "This isn't about revenge. This vile killer never expressed any remorse and he might end up making a triumphant return to Lebanon. We cannot allow that."

Keren said that over the past few days, the family has received dozens of calls form other bereaved families, offering their support.

"Ours isn’t a private incident, it belongs to the State of Israel. Unfortunately, Kuntar's name has become more familiar than that of Danny Haran lately. I wish he could just be taken out of the equation," said Keren.

The thought that Kuntar might soon become a free man is haunting him, he said: "I can't imagine it. That vicious murderer, who bashed a four-year-old girl's head in with a gun, set free?!

"Bringing Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev back alive is very important, but the other side must realize that getting them back alive is non-negotiable. Otherwise it would carry severe political and military consequences," he said.

"I feel very bad about the way this thing is being conducted. We have to radically change the way we deal with such negotiations."

Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were kidnapped in Lebanon 718 days ago.

Roni Sofer contributed to this report.

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