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Copyright 2002 Ha'aretz

June 7, 2002

HEADLINE: New Team to Look into the Fate of Navigator Ron Arad

BYLINE: Amos Harel

A new "brainstorming team" headed by former Tel Aviv District Court President Judge Eliahu Winograd is going to work on the mystery of missing navigator Ron Arad, captured by the Amal militia in Lebanon after bailing out over the country in October 1986.

Amal handed Arad over to Hezbollah, and apparently from them, he was given to the Iranians. Arad's family asked the IDF to establish the new team two years ago. At first the army hesitated but Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz made the appointment this week.

The team's mission is to examine all the information in the hands of the defense establishment and reach conclusions about what might have happened to the air force navigator.

A senior army source said last night, "It's been nearly 16 years and we still don't know what happened to him. There's a lot of material that's piled up. The goal now is to examine it all. Maybe we lost something relevant, maybe we didn't cross-check with reports that we missed."

The team won't be looking for people to blame, said the source, but to find "things we missed. I don't think the team will be able to close the case or determine if Ron is alive or not, but they could certainly come up with some recommendations for new directions in the investigation."

Mossad has taken the unusual step of opening its archives to the team, which will also use Military Intelligence material. Arad's family pressed for bringing in someone from outside the defense establishment as a team leader. Winograd will be joined on the team by a former police officer highly experienced in investigations, and an officer from the IDF's intelligence department.

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