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Arad, Ron


ARAD, RON (1958– ), missing Israeli navigator. Arad grew up in Hod ha-Sharon and lost his father as a teenager. He attended a high school military academy and volunteered for the air force, serving as a navigator and later studying chemical engineering at the Technion. On October 16, 1986, during a flight across the Lebanese border, his Phantom jet was hit. He and his fellow pilot abandoned the plane. The pilot succeeded in reaching the rescue team, but Arad was captured by the terrorist Shiite Amal organization. Amal demanded 200 Lebanese and 450 Palestinians prisoners and $3 million in exchange for Arad. The Israeli government refused to give in to its demands. Subsequently, Arad was in the custody of various organizations, all with connections to Iran. During the first two years of his captivity he sent letters, but from 1987 there was no further information about his fate. Over the years Israel made great efforts to obtain information about him, including the kidnapping of Mustafa Dirani, the Amal security chief who first had custody of Arad. The German government too used its good offices to obtain information about Arad, and his wife, Tami, met with heads of state as Arad's plight became a cause celebre and a part of Israel's popular consciousness – but all to no avail. In 2004 the Born To Freedom Foundation, set up to secure his release, offered a $10 million reward for information about his whereabouts. During his captivity, Arad received the rank of lieutenant colonel.


[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

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