Hizbullah restates claim that Ron Arad is dead

Media reports indicate declaration is part of group's dossier on missing navigator to be given to Israel.

Ron arad with baby 224.8 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Ron arad with baby 224.8
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Hizbullah has told German mediator Gerhard Konrad that missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad is dead, several media outlets reported on Monday. The declaration, which was apparently part of a report by the organization on its efforts to locate Arad, was a reiteration of statements previously made by the group: In 2006 Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah said he believed the missing aviator was no longer alive. According to Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, the organization's report includes details on search efforts it conducted both within Lebanon and outside of it, as well as testimonies made on the subject by various sources. The report by Hizbullah is to be handed over to Israel as part of the upcoming prisoner swap with the group, which was approved by the government on Sunday. The Jerusalem Post could not independently confirm the reports. The Prime Minister's Office said in response that it did not have any information on whether Arad was alive or dead and had not seen Hizbullah's report. It was not even clear if the German mediator had read the entire report, PMO officials said. 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. Herb Keinon contributed to this report