TV producer: Arad film seems authentic

Lebanese station says footage would be international scoop when aired in full.

Israeli TV producer Naftali Glicksberg, who participated in the production of a leading Lebanese TV station's film on Ron Arad, says he believes the scenes of the missing Israeli navigator are authentic and that he is easily identifiable. Reports from Lebanon said the bearded man in the video spoke for over a minute in Hebrew in the film. Arad went missing when his plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986. "He's speaking Hebrew, and I think this is authentic material," Glicksberg told Army Radio. "This doesn't just look like him, this is a sound track of an [Israeli] speaking - this sounds like Ron Arad. I believe this is indeed him." A Lebanese television station announced Monday that it would broadcast a video clip showing Arad next week. The LBC station claimed the footage, which also includes Arad's voice, would be an international scoop. It did not elaborate. Glicksberg said he saw the material on Arad nearly a year ago, but the Lebanese producers refused his request for more details on the origin of the film and even refused his suggestion that the film be brought to Israel for examination, due to fear of the Israeli security establishment. He also pointed out that the film was supposed to be broadcast four months ago, but that the Lebanese broadcasting station decided unexpectedly to postpone it. "They said this wasn't the right time," Glicksberg said, adding that he was surprised to see the promotional clip on Monday. "I wouldn't be surprised if the release of the film were part of Lebanon's strategic plan." The promotional clip shows a man who very much resembles Arad, though his identity could not be immediately confirmed. Security sources said the film appeared to be genuine, and was taken about 17 years ago. Arad's family concluded that the person shown in the video was indeed the missing navigator. They said it was the clearest indication that Ron was alive that they had received in 20 years and expressed the desire to determine who was behind the video's release. Another part of the clip showed a man hanging on to a cobra attack helicopter; it was unclear who the person was or if the footage was authentic, but it is possible that it was the pilot of Arad's aircraft, who was rescued hours after the incident occurred. Arad has been missing since he and the pilot were forced to eject from their Phantom plane over Lebanon in October 1986, after a bomb dropped by the jet exploded prematurely in the air, causing damage to the aircraft. In the framework of the second phase of a prisoner swap deal between Hizbullah and Israel in 2004, Israel was reportedly to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who murdered three members of the Haran family in Nahariya in 1979, in return for information about Arad. Last year, Arad's brother Chen criticized the government, claiming it had no intention of fulfilling the second part of the agreement. "The second stage was never meant to happen, and if everybody is comfortable, from the chief of staff through the Ministry of Defense to the prime minister, then we'll say that there was a second stage. Let's give them this opportunity to maintain their respect, and say that it was always meant to happen, but has just been delayed," he said. In the first stage, Israel released 400 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the return of kidnapped Israeli businessman Col. (res.) Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham, Omar Sawayid and Adi Avitan, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah in October 2000.