As Israel was getting ready to free Kuntar last Wednesday, the Lebanese militant told guards that he didn't want to walk to freedom in a prison uniform.
When the Israeli guards refused, Kuntar said he told them to call off the deal.
"I've kept my dignity for 30 years," Kuntar said he told his jailers, "I'm not going to give it up in the last half hour."
The standoff lasted until the guards called their superiors, who eventually agreed to let Kuntar go free in civilian clothes.
Once free after nearly 30 years, Kuntar traded the civilian clothes for military fatigues and delivered a defiant threat to return to his militant mission.
In Israel, Kuntar is seen as an unrepentant child killer.
Here in his Druze village in the cool pine mountains outside Beirut, he is a hero.
"When he was little, he used to be humble with the spirit of a fighter," said a woman who works at the corner market near Kuntar's family home. "When he came out, he was the same way. He fought for his cause. He was patriotic."
Though Israel recently released long-secret court records with eyewitness testimony and medical reports to support Kuntar's conviction for shooting an Israeli dad in front of his daughter and then smashing the 4-year-old girl's head with his rifle butt, Kuntar denies killing either one.
From his 1980 trial to to this day, Kuntar has said that the two were killed by Israeli bullets in a firefight as he tried to flee. Kuntar contends that he meant to take hostages in an attack that went awry.
"This was a military operation," says Kuntar's younger brother, Bassam, who led a long PR campaign to free Samir. "We have to accept the reality of what happened, but we will never accept that this operation was aimed at children."
Asked if he has any regrets, even if he didn't kill the little girl, Samir Kuntar simply laughs.
"That's a funny question," Kuntar says in his first interview with an American newspaper reporter after nearly 30 years behind bars.
There is little remorse for the innocent Israeli lives lost in the notorious attack.
Instead, Kuntar says he is ready to go back and fight Israel.
Asked if he hopes to play a strategic role akin to Imad Mughnieyh, the Hezbollah mastermind killed by a car bomb in Damascus earlier this year, Kuntar again laughs.
"God willing," he says.
The jubilant reception Kuntar has received at home has shocked and disgusted Israelis who can't understand how Lebanon can honor a convicted child killer.
Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Beirut-based political analyst and Hezbollah specialist, said people here simply don't accept Israel's version of events.
"I don't think all Lebanese believe he actually killed the child," she said.
For others, there is a certain callousness in their replies.
"How come they have the right to feel sad for one or three people when they killed thousands in the south," said the woman in the market, who criticized Israel for bombing Lebanon during the 2006 war in a 34-day campaign that killed 1,200 Lebanese citizens.
Just what role Kuntar will play in the coming days, weeks and months isn't clear.
For now, he is a potent symbol of Hezbollah's ascendant power.
And he is a reminder of the emotionally-charged divisions that will make it difficult for Lebanon and Israel to make peace any time soon.