Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Report
HEADLINE: Gov't report: Great possibility Arad alive
BYLINE: MATTHEW GUTMAN
The possibility that missing IAF navigator is alive is greater than any other likelihood, Arad's brother Chen said Tuesday.
Chen Arad read that conclusion directly from the report of a government agency, the Winograd committee, that investigated whether Ron Arad is still alive. "The report contains information from these past years, regarding the position and well-being of Ron," said Arad. He refused to disclose the years specified by the report, but when asked whether the whereabouts of Arad's captors is Iran, he responded: "The address is the same address."
Arad also said the report criticized the security system for never properly considering the information contained in the report. The IDF revealed the confidential Winograd report to the Arad family was last week, following their appeal to the High Court of Justice, in an attempt to delay the impending prisoner exchange deal, which excludes Arad.
The committee traces its origins to action by then-chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz in 2002 to reconsider the efforts made by Israel to obtain Arad's release since he bailed out over southern Lebanon on October 16, 1986. The committee, composed of retired Judge Eliahu Winograd, former Mossad official Uri Ne'eman, and former police investigator Meir Gilboa, studied the efforts made to release Arad, including the question of whether he was alive.
Arad said Tuesday the report concluded there is a direct connection between Arad and Amal leader Mustafa Dirani. The Arad family has vigorously lobbied the government to exclude Dirani from the prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the remains of St.-Sgts. Omar Suwayed, Benny Avraham, and Adi Avitan, who were killed in a Hizbullah ambush in October 2000.
Dirani captured Arad in 1986, then allegedly sold him to the Iranians in 1988. The inclusion of information regarding Arad inherently complicates the negotiations by bringing Iran directly into the equation. Hizbullah maintains that it will walk away from any deal that does not include Dirani.
Dirani and another hostage, Sheikh Karim Obeid, are being held in Israel as bargaining chips for Arad's release. They are among those demanded by Hizbullah in exchange for Tannenbaum and the bodies of the three IDF soldiers
Arad called on the Israeli people to do all they can to prevent the deal from going through.
He declined to cite the source of the information compiled in the report, but said it is accurate.
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