Israel Receives Hizbullah Report: Ron Arad Died 20 Years Ago
Ofer Dekel, Israel's negotiator for the release of captives, has returned to Israel with a Hizbullah report stating that Arad died two years after he was captured.
The Hizbullah terrorist organization, based in southern Lebanon, prepared the report on its investigation of Ron Arad's disappearance, as part of its obligations in the recently approved "humanitarian agreement" with Israel.
The agreeement stipulates that Israel will release murderous terrorist Samir Kuntar and four other terrorists, as well as the remains of dozens of Lebanese infiltrators and others, and will provide information on four missing Iranian diplomats, and will provide maps of mines in southern Lebanon. In exchange, Hizbullah is to free captured IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser - assumed by Israeli intelligence to be dead - and provide a detailed report on Ron Arad.
It is this report that Dekel received on Thursday from German mediators, and has now given to Israeli government officials for their review.
Ron Arad was an IDF navigator who was shot down over Lebanon in late 1986. His pilot was dramatically rescued by Israeli forces, but Arad was captured and transferred from one terrorist group to another until his tracks were lost. Three letters from him were received in 1987. The Israeli government negotiated for his release, but talks failed in 1988. Arad was then apparently "sold" to Iran, though this is not certain.
In 1989 and 1994, Israel captured two leading Lebanese terrorists involved in Arad's capture and incarceration, as a means of gaining information on Arad. This attempt ultimately proved to be a dead end, and they were released in 2004 as part of the exchange for Elchanan Tenenbaum and the bodies of three captured IDF soldiers.
Various Israeli intelligence reports say Arad died sometime in the 1990's. There is no concrete proof that he is dead, however, and his wife Tami has remained an agunah - not permitted to remarry - since his disappearance.
This week, the Israeli Cabinet approved, in principle, the exchange deal for Goldwasser and Regev. Dekel spent Wednesday and Thursday in Germany ironing out final details, and was given the Hizbullah report in which the terrorist organization states it knows for certain that Arad died shortly after he was taken to a southern Lebanon village in May 1988.
Before the report was handed to Dekel, German mediator Gerhard Konrad reviewed it and ascertained that it met the standards of detail required by the agreement with Israel.
Though this report marks an important milestone in the long search for Ron Arad, the saga will end only once Arad either returns home, or is ruled to be dead by the IDF Rabbinate.