Ron Arad (pilot)
Picture of Ron Arad taken by Amal militants in 1987.
|Native name||רון ארד|
5 May 1958|
|Service/branch||Israeli Air Force|
|Years of service||1978–86|
Captain at the time of his capture
Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad (Hebrew: רון ארד) (born 5 May 1958, presumed dead), was an Israeli Air Force weapon systems officer (WSO) who is officially classified as missing in action since October 1986, but is widely presumed dead. Arad was lost on a mission over Lebanon, captured by Shiite group Amal and was later handed over to the Hezbollah.
Arad was born on 5 May 1958 in Hod HaSharon, Israel. He studied in the Boarding Command School in Tel Aviv. Arad began military service in the Israel Defense Forces in 1978 and graduated from the IAF flight course in 1979 as a combat navigator.
Arad was married to Tami and is father to a daughter, Yuval.
On 16 October 1986, Arad and pilot Yishai Aviram were on a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon, Lebanon. A bomb dropped by their F-4 Phantom II apparently exploded prematurely, causing damage to the aircraft and forcing both crewmen to eject. Aviram was located by an Israeli Bell AH-1 Cobra a few hours later, and escaped by clinging to one of its landing skids as it flew away while under heavy enemy fire, but Arad was captured by the Lebanese Shi'ite militia Amal.
Arad was brought to Beirut where he was held by then-head of security of Amal, Mustafa Dirani. Amal head Nabih Berri announced that he was holding Arad, and proposed an exchange for Shiite and Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.
In 1987, three letters in Arad's handwriting and two photos of a bearded Arad were received, proving Arad was alive. The Israeli government negotiated for his release, but talks failed in 1988. After this time, credible information about Arad has been hard to obtain, though unsubstantiated claims of new information are made regularly.
To gain further insight on his whereabouts, Israeli commandos captured Hezbollah member Abdel Karim Obeid in 1989, and Mustafa Dirani in 1994. The Israeli government claimed it was holding them in order to find out information about Arad. During his interrogation by IDF officers, Dirani reportedly disclosed that on 4 May 1988, Arad was turned over first to a Hezbollah unit and then to Iranian Revolutionary Guards who were in Lebanon at the time aiding Hezbollah guerrillas, after which he may have been taken to Iran. But neither Iran nor any guerrilla group ever offered any useful information about Arad's fate. Karim-Obeid and Dirani were released in 2004 as part of a prisoner swap. No information on Arad's fate was released after the swap.
In 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon revealed that an intelligence agent had been killed during efforts to rescue Arad. In December 2003, an organization seeking information about Arad issued a reward of $10 million to anyone coming forward with such information.
In 2004, Israeli military intelligence formed a secret commission to investigate Arad's fate, and in 2009, it determined that Arad was dead. According to the report, Arad had been transferred to Iran in 1990, where he was held by the Revolutionary Guard in strict secrecy and in complete isolation. Arad was transferred back to Lebanon following the capture of Mustafa Dirani, after the Iranians feared that Dirani would implicate them. The report stated that Arad died in the mid-1990s after he became gravely ill and was refused medical treatment, and was buried in the Beqaa Valley.
While the majority of the committee members concluded that Arad died in early 1995, others said that he probably died in late 1996 or early 1997. The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by stating that Israel would continue to work under the assumption that Arad was alive, unless there was "conclusive evidence" that he was dead.
In the early 1990s, Israel offered Iran a $10 billion aid package and to help Iran negotiate a compromise with the United States over $5 billion in Iranian assets frozen after the 1979 Iranian revolution in exchange for information on Arad. The report also revealed that when Iran was negotiating long-term loans with western European countries to prevent economic collapse, Israeli intelligence closely followed the negotiations and discovered a strategy of deceit used by Iranian negotiators to get better rates and longer terms out of European lenders by telling them that other lenders had offered better rates and longer terms. Israel threatened to expose this information if Arad was not released, and when Iran refused, Israel carried out its threat, which resulted in negotiations being halted. Israel threatened to expose more embarrassing information unless Arad was released. These details were revealed in 2005 in Yediot Ahronot.
In 2006, Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah publicly stated that Hezbollah believed Arad to be dead and his remains lost. This marked the first time they publicly acknowledged their lack of knowledge about Arad's whereabouts.
On 28 August 2006, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation broadcast new footage of Arad. The footage was believed to have been shot in 1988.
In October 2007, Israel received a two-decade old letter written by Arad to his family.
In a news conference on 2 July 2008, held by Hassan Nasrallah, he stated that his group conducted a detailed investigation into the fate of the missing Israeli navigator. The investigation spanned three years, and included in-depth interviews with prominent figures in Lebanon. Nasrallah declined to indicate the findings of the investigation, but stated that a written report was handed to the United Nations representative mediating between the Lebanese group and the Israelis.
During the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, the son of Arad's pilot, Yishai Aviram, was the helicopter pilot who flew Gilad Shalit home after he personally appealed to Air Force commander Ido Nehoshtan.
- Reference needed. Contrary to this - Hezbollah, Born in Vengeance, Hala Jaber, New York (1997), p.29
- "Abduction of Sheikh Obeid, Security Council Resolution 638". JewishVirtualLibrary.org. Unknown parameter
- Katz, Yaakov. "Airman Ron Arad's family given new photos". Fr.jpost.com. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
- "Missing for 23 Years: Secret Israeli Report Reveals Truth about Ron Arad's Fate". Spiegel.de. Unknown parameter
- "MI report says Ron Arad died in '95". YnetNews.com. October 16, 1986. Unknown parameter
- "Israel offered Iran billions for Arad". YnetNews.com. June 20, 1995. Unknown parameter
- גיא בניוביץ' (June 20, 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. Unknown parameter
- "German negotiator informs Israel missing aviator is dead (Roundup)". Monsters and Critics. Unknown parameter
- Zitun, Yoav (October 23, 2011). "Father flew with Ron Arad, Son brought Gilad Shalit home". YnetNews.com. Unknown parameter
- ICMIS bio on Ron Arad
- Story of Ron Arad
- Archive of news articles
- Ron Arad – Reward: A site that offers a $10,000,000 reward for any proven information leading to Ron Arad.
- Ron Arad News, Israeli newspaper with online reports about Ron Arad.
- Ron Arad on Lebanese TV? – Ynet article & video clip aired on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation
- Israel obtains two-decade-old letter from missing navigator
- Tami Arad, his wife, with Raanan Gissin interviewed by Leon Charney on The Leon Charney Report