Brother of police officer murdered by Kuntar faces dilemma
Twenty-nine years ago, terrorist cell killed Haran family members, police officer Eliyahu Shachar in Nahariya. Brother Haim Shachar recalls terrible tragedy haunting his family since then as Kuntar’s possible release makes headlines once again
Mixed feelings: Haim Shachar, brother of police officer Eliyahu Shachar, who was murdered together with the three Haran family members in Nahariya in the terror attack executed by Samir Kuntar and three other terrorists, finds it hard to face the news of the possible release of his brother’s murderer.
“Samir Kuntar ruined my life; I lost my brother, my parents and now he is going to be set free. I want the kidnapped soldiers to return home, but I also want this murderer to rot in jail,” Shachar told Ynet on Tuesday.
Ronen Shachar, the murdered officer’s other brother told Yedioth Ahronoth that if Kuntar is released – he will not show up for his military reserve duty.
“There’s a limit to the price we have to pay. I am not going to serve my reserve duty or contribute to a country with no logic.”
On the night of April 22, 1979, a terrorist cell of four operatives landed on Nahariya’s shore from Lebanon. They surrounded Amnon Sela’s villa on the water front and pressed the interphone buzzer.
Sela and his wife noticed the suspicious figures carrying backpacks and assumed they were burglars. Police forces quickly arrived at the scene.
Eliyahu Shachar, a 25-year-old officer who was also the shift commander arrived at the scene first. He was hoping to red-handedly catch the burglars, but a bullet shot through his neck when he exited his vehicle. The terrorist cell headed by Kuntar moved on to the Haran residence, where they murdered the father Danny Haran and his daughters Einat, 4, and Yael, 2.
Shachar was survived by a wife and three children as well as his parents, Rachel and Andre. The gaping hole and grief he left after him took another toll on his family.
“After my brother’s murder, my mother would visit the cemetery every single day and sleep near his grave,” said Haim. “She died of grief eight months later at the age of 44. My father became an alcoholic who would sit at home drinking constantly. Four years later, the alcohol beat him and he passed away at 51.”
'Stare at me and smile'
The family’s tragedy has been following them ever since. Cruel fate prepared a chilling encounter between Haim Shachar and Samir Kuntar at the Beersheba Prison; Haim was a food supply truck driver bringing provisions to the prison.
A year after his brother’s murder, Kuntar was transferred to Beersheba Prison and placed on kitchen duty. Their meeting was inevitable.
“The first time a saw him I could hardly believe my eyes. I wanted to kill him and it was simply unbearable," said Haim. “I repeatedly asked to have him transferred from there because I couldn’t deal with seeing him around, but he stayed on. He knew exactly who I was and remembered me from his trial. Every time he saw me in the kitchen he would stare at me and smile.”
The unavoidable encounters between killer and victim forced Haim to finally resign. The four Shachar siblings have found it hard to move on with their lives. “I decided not to have any more children, thinking to myself – what kind of world am I bringing them into?”
Every time the subject of Kuntar’s release from prison is brought up in the public discourse, Haim’s heart is torn apart. “I know that the right thing to do is bring those soldiers back at all costs, but the heart says – let him rot in jail. Even though I know his prison conditions are better than the ones he has at home.
“My young brother Eliyahu was a vibrant person," Haim chokes with tears. “He wasn’t supposed to be there in Nahariya. He was going to spend the weekend with me, but one of the officers traded duties with him and he took the shift in which he was killed.”