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Middle East
Profile: Lebanese prisoners
Five Lebanese prisoners return home as part of a deal between Israel and Hezbollah.
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2008 03:34 GMT


Kuntar, third from left, spent 29 years in an Israeli prison [AFP]


Fireworks, rallies and billboards marked the return of five Lebanese prisoners from Israel.

 

The most prominent among them was Samir Kuntar, who Israel sentenced to five life terms for a 1979 triple murder.

 

Returning alongside Kuntar were four other Lebanese prisoners who were captured by Israeli soldiers during their 2006 invasion of Lebanon: Maher Korani, Mohammed Sorour, Hussein Sleiman and Khodr Zeidan. 

 

Israel's longest-held prisoner

 

Born on July 20, 1952, Kuntar was serving multiple life terms in Israel after he and three other fighters infiltrated Israel in 1979 and staged an attack in the northern coastal town of Nahariya.

 

An Israeli court convicted Kuntar, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, of killing a policeman and then kidnapping a man and his four-year-old daughter and killing them outside their home.

The court found he had killed the girl by bashing her head with a rifle.

 

However, Kuntar denies this, saying the girl was killed in the crossfire.

 

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

 

Although he is Druze, not Shia, Hezbollah made Kuntar's freedom its central demand, partly because an earlier prisoner swap arranged with Israel in 2004 failed to secure his release.

Kuntar was 17 when he raided the Israeli town.

 

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, had described Kuntar as the last bargaining chip for word on the fate of Israeli airman Ron Arad, who disappeared after bailing out during a bombing run on Lebanon in 1986.

 

The four other prisoners were transferred from Ashmoret prison, near the coastal city of Netanya, where they have been held since their capture in the 2006 Lebanon war.

 

Korani was born in 1981 in the southern village of Yater. He was captured by Israeli troops on July 29, 2006, in the southern town of Shiheen near Naqura.

 

Sleiman, another Hezbollah fighter, was born in 1985 and is a resident of Beirut's southern suburbs. He was also captured during the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war.

 

Khodr Zeidan, also a Hezbollah fighter, was born in 1982 and is from the southern Lebanese town of Marwaniyeh. He was captured by Israeli during the 2006 war.

 

Sorour was also captured during Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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