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The Intricacies of the Arad-Tenenbaum Story

The family of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad continues its efforts to prevent the loss of what it feels is its "last chance" to redeem Ron from enemy hands.
First Publish: 9/26/2003, 2:28 PM

Advanced negotiations are currently underway between Israel and Hizbullah for a deal that would see an exchange of many Arab terrorists - including Sheikh Obeid and Mustafa Dirani - for kidnapped Israeli civilian Elchanan Tenenbaum and the bodies of three soldiers killed by Hizbullah. Obeid and Dirani were captured by Israel 14 and 9 years ago, respectively, specifically for the purpose of bringing about Ron Arad's release. Hizbullah leaders have said that they would make "every effort" to obtain and provide Israel with information on Ron Arad after the deal goes through.

Arad's family demands that any deal include information on their loved one, and therefore took two major steps this week: They first sued Dirani himself for damages of 100 million shekels, as he was the one who actually drove Arad around in his car-trunk for two years, treating him brutally until he finally sold the captured navigator to the Iranians.

In addition, the family filed suit yesterday demanding the publication of the Winograd Report, which states that there is no evidence proving that Arad is dead, and that the government must therefore relate to him as if he were alive.

In response to the second suit, the government agreed to release the report, but only after deleting certain parts deemed harmful to state security. The Arad family stated that this was not satisfactory, as it would do them no good to receive the report only a short time before - or while - the deal is actually carried out.

Maariv newspaper reports that the defense establishment is far from unanimously convinced that a deal for Tenenbaum without Arad is worthwhile. The paper also editorializes that government ministers and others who will make the final decision must demand to hear the facts and circumstances of Tenenbaum's capture, noting that they "might regret not having done so afterwards." An IDF reserves Colonel, Tenenbaum was kidnapped three years ago while on a private business trip in Abu Dhabi.

Prime Minister Sharon, on the other hand, has said that any Jew in enemy hands must be redeemed. He said that he would meet with the Arad family once again before any final decision on a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah is made. Sharon also said that Obeid and Dirani are not Israel's last bargaining chips for Arad, and that one or two "important" Arabs imprisoned in Europe will not be released until information on Arad is received.

The Arad family was not pleased with this announcement, saying that they prefer "a bird in the hand - Dirani - more than two or ten in the bush. We haven't heard that British Prime Minister Blair or other European leaders agree to these conditions."