Report: Hizbullah Says Ron Arad is Dead, No New Details on Body

A report submitted by Hizbullah contains maps and eyewitness accounts of Arad's last years, including the failed escape attempt that left him dead.

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Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel ,

Ron Arad, Captured by Hizbullah in 1986
Ron Arad, Captured by Hizbullah in 1986

An 80-page report submitted by the Hizbullah terrorist organization to German mediator Gerhard Konrad alleges that IAF navigator Ron Arad died while attempting to escape captivity in 1988, but doesn't explain how. The report also fails to explain what became of his body.

The document, written in Arabic, was transferred to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Saturday, in an apparent attempt to settle Israel’s doubts on the fate of Arad, long presumed, but never confirmed, to be dead.

After translation to Hebrew, the report was circulated to Israeli intelligence officials for review, with a discussion of the findings to be discussed at the Tuesday weekly cabinet meeting.

As experts from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the international intelligence arm, the Mossad, analyze the document to determine its authenticity and accuracy, it is already being called “inconclusive” due to its lack of information on the whereabouts of Arad’s body.

The document is reported to contain maps showing the area where Arad was held prisoner and alleges that he died in a failed attempt to escape. It  is supposedly based on ‘first-hand’ accounts of people who saw Arad about a year and a half after he was taken captive by the Lebanese Amal terrorist group who shot down his aircraft over southern Lebanon in 1986.

Arad’s daughter Yuval condemned the de facto pronouncement of death by the Israeli media, slamming the daily Maariv for its headline saying “all efforts have been exhausted.”

“We cannot declare someone dead because we have no information,” she argued. Yuval was 10 years old when her father disappeared.

The initial review of the document  has not revealed any conclusive evidence, and the case of Ron Arad has yet to be closed by the Israeli government. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to convene his cabinet upon his return from France, and the meeting will focus on analysis of the report and recommendations from experts from the military and intelligence communities.

Hizbullah is meanwhile waiting for a report from Israel, concerning the fate of four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Beirut in 1982. Iran has repeatedly accused the Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangist militias of abducting the four for Israel, a charge which Israel has consistently denied. Samir Geagea, a former leader of the Phalangists, claimed that his men killed the Iranians.

The Israeli cabinet is expected to accept the Hizbullah report on Arad and go through with the prisoner exchange deal it has signed with the Lebanese terrorists, regardless of whether the IDF soldiers kidnapped on Israel's northern border are dead or alive.

As part of the deal, Israel is to release the bodies of hundreds of dead Hizbullah terrorists, along with a number of living prisoners, many of whom have “blood on their hands”. Among those killers Israel is expected to release is Samir Kuntar, who led a terrorist attack that murdered four Israeli citizens in a 1979 in the northern coastal city of Nahariya. Kuntar recently vowed to resume his terrorist activities as soon as he is released.

In return, Israel hopes to see the return of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, captured across the border by Hizbullah like Arad. Hizbullah will also reportedly return remains of other IDF soldiers it says it is holding.

The exchange of live terrorists for dead bodies will reportedly take place on Wednesday or Thursday at the Rosh HaNikra border crossing with Lebanon.



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