Arad family to protest release of Iranian prisoner

By RORY KRESS
October 16, 2007 00:36

2 minute read.



A day before the 21st anniversary of navigator Ron Arad's capture, his daughter and brother flew to Germany on Monday to meet with Attorney-General Monica Harms, in a final attempt to prevent the release of Iranian intelligence officer Kazem Darabi, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1991 in German custody. They left before the Israel-Hizbullah exchange on Monday evening was announced. Arad's daughter Yuval and his brother Chen refused comment to the press, while the media reported rumors of a deal between Germany and Iran to release Darabi in exchange for reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose kidnapping by Hizbullah launched the Second Lebanon War last summer. Both Regev and Goldwasser were at one time believed to have been transferred to Iran soon after their capture - both Israel and Iran, however, have since denied that claim. The Arad family believes senior Iranian officer Darabi to be one of their final hopes for a prisoner exchange leading to Ron's release. Arad's fate has been a mystery since 1986, after he ejected from his F-4 Phantom II over Lebanon during a mission to bomb PLO targets near Sidon. Originally captured by Amal, a Shi'ite Militia, it is believed that Arad was sold to Hizbullah in 1988. Over the past two decades, various signs of life from Arad have been made public, though the evidence has largely been inconclusive, leading many Israelis to believe him dead. The most recent news of Arad surfaced in 2006 when Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah, said he believed him dead. In August of 2006, a previously unseen video of Arad smoking a cigarette in his cell was released. In the video - believed to have been filmed in 1988 - he lists his training and studies, speaking in muffled, at times inaudible English. One organization which is continuing to raise awareness not only about Arad, but about other Israeli MIAs as well, is the Born to Freedom Foundation. The foundation is offering $10 million for any new and relevant information that can lead to the rescue of Arad, Guy Hever, Zvi Feldman or Yehuda Katz. The Born to Freedom Foundation has been at the forefront of seeking information on Arad, spurring thousands of people worldwide to participate in an effort to uncover new activity in the case. Eyal Ben-Reuven, who took charge of the Born to Freedom Foundation only a few weeks ago, spoke with The Jerusalem Post about the Arad family's latest attempt to secure information about Ron. "The [Arad] family feels that we need to continue to put forth every effort in order to bring him home… they feel it's a responsibility of the government to solve the issue and bring him home," Ben-Reuven explained. "We continue to believe that [Ron Arad] is alive - that is the basis of our organization - and we will do everything we can… to bring him home."


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