Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who spoke at a ceremony commemorating 20 years since Ron Arad was last seen alive, said that the working assumption is that Ron Arad is still among the living, and that Israel sees Iran as holding the key to his fate.
It was 20 years ago today, October 16, 1986, when Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad was downed with his pilot over southern Lebanon while on an attack mission against terrorist strongholds. During the attack, the two crew members ejected from their IAF F-4 Phantom and landed in enemy territory. While the pilot managed to escape and was rescued in a heroic mission, Arad was quickly captured by local militias and has not been seen since.
It is believed that Arad has been held by several groups since his capture, and is now believed to be in the hands of the Iranians, although no confirmation or signs of life have been received from him for more than 18 years. Several attempts to negotiate for his freedom and to get a sign of life did not succeed.
Peretz added that Israel will not spare any efforts to reveal the fate of Arad and bring the tragic story to an end. He also added that Israel is working diligently, yet quietly, to return the three kidnapped soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser.