A previously un-shown video of captured Israeli flight navigator Ron Arad has suddenly been released by the very people who must have even more information concerning the fate of the man that many Israelis hope may still be alive.
Captured in southern Lebanon in 1986, after his plane was shot down by a SAM missile, and following later photos of him in captivity, no positive additional information has been disclosed by his captors, alleged to have been either the Hezbollah or a Shiite Muslim ‘splinter group’. Arad, who’s capture and unknown whereabouts has been the subject of countless efforts to at least learn of his fate, has surfaced time and time again â€“ especially when new prisoner swap deals have been in the making, particularly like the one now involving the two captured IDF soldiers and a number of Hezbollah fighters who are now ‘guests’ of the IDF. The deal will be the first since the January 2004 exchange in which the bodies of three kidnapped IDF soldiers and an Israeli businessman, Elkanan Tannanbaum, were exchanged for a large number of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists. Tannanbaum, who remains in Israeli police custody, has said little of his more than three year captivity.
And what of Ron Arad and his captivity? The newly released video, which also is reported to have his voice recorded as well, shows a haunting specter of a man who appears to have been kept in near or total darkness; his continuous eye blinking indicating he was not used to light. After a period of twenty years, in which his infant daughter has now grown into womanhood; his wife has lost her entire adult life as a wife and mother of other children. It is very unlikely that Ron is still alive; and in fact a Russian diplomat who had been assigned to the Russian Embassy in Beirut disclosed a number of years ago that he had received “very reliable” information that Arad had died about five years after his capture while in the process of being moved to another secret location. Other stories including ones that Arad had been taken secretly to Iran; had tried to escape his captors several times; and even one in which Hezbollah leader Narsrallah displayed a femur bone alleged to belong to the airman only add to the sad mystery of what actually was Ron Arad’s final fate.
Sheikh Hassan Narshallah appears to know when to disclose bits of additional information concerning the fate of captured Israeli military personnel. He knows that the deep concern for human life is a ‘weakness’ among Israelis; and he knows how to play this ‘sympathy card’ to the fullest. Especially now, in light of the ending of Israelis second major Lebanese conflict, Hezbollah now feels to be in a position of having great leverage; enabling the Sheikh to feel he has even more power than he did before the war began.
Israeli leaders, themselves under intense criticism for the way the war was conducted, now have to deal with Narsrallah and his organization in an even more disadvantaged position. The question many are now asking is what price will need to be paid now for the release of the three captured IDF soldiers (one is still held by a Palestinian faction in Gaza). One wonders if over 130 dead Israelis, 38 of them civilians, is not already a very heavy price.