Seen smoking a cigarette in his cell, the voice of IAF navigator Ron Arad - Israel's most famous MIA - was heard for the first time Wednesday night in a televised video. Aired on Channel 10, Arad was seen wearing a sweat suit and, speaking in accented English, telling about his studies at Beersheba University - now Ben-Gurion University of the Negev -during the IAF pilot's course.
In the short segment, Arad is seen in a closed room and opens his remarks by stating his name and the names of his parents. "Ron Arad, Dov Arad, Batya Arad," he said. "I am a soldier in the Israeli army."
Explaining the pilot training he underwent, Arad said: "First we flew Highlander [airplanes]... but not only airplanes, also engines and all of the hydraulic systems."
The video, bought by Channel 10 from the Lebanese Broadcasting Company, is a documentary of the 2000 kidnapping of three IDF soldiers. The Arad segment, which is a part of the documentary, was most probably, sources calculated, filmed in the late 1980s, just a year or two after Arad was taken into captivity. Arad disappeared after his plane went down over Lebanon in 1986.
"The first year we studied mechanical engineering," Arad continued. "We then studied mathematics, physics, chemistry and English." In the background, the voice of another man can be heard, most probably one of Arad's captors who was interrogating him.
Channel 10 said that it took the film to Rafael, the Armament Development Authority, where it underwent a biometric test that confirmed that Arad was the man speaking.
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah also appears in the film and claims that over the years he received remains which were claimed to be Arad's.
"More than once we received bones which were supposedly Ron Arad's. Forensic tests were performed in each of these cases, and the results were negative," he said.
Channel 10 also aired an interview with Elhanan Tannenbaum, the businessman who was taken captive by Hizbullah and returned in 2003, together with the bodies of IDF soldiers Benny Avraham, Omar Sawayid and Adi Avitan, in exchange for the release of 400 prisoners.
In his first interview since his return, Tannenbaum spoke of the conditions in which he was held. "You are disconnected from the world," he said. "There is no sunlight in the cell and most of the time you are inside and can't even go out to the bathroom or take a shower."