Mossad recently held operation to locate Ron Arad – Bennett

Written by on October 4, 2021

The Mossad conducted a special operation in the Middle East in an effort to find the remains and information about Israeli Air Force (IAF) Navigator Ron Arad, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed in a speech to the Knesset plenum on Monday.

Despite the dramatic announcement, Bennett did not give any further information about the fate of the captive, who has long been presumed dead. Nor was his office forthcoming with context or explanations of the timing of the prime minister’s statement revealing the secret operation. 

Bennett told the Knesset he authorized the operation for the airman who has been missing since 1986 out of the spirit of the Jewish concept of redeeming captives and that he had informed Arad’s family.

“Last month, Mossad agents – men and women – embarked on a complex, wide-ranging and daring operation to find the remains and whereabouts of Ron Arad,” said the Prime Minister. 

“That is all that can be said at the moment,” Bennett said. He also thanked the IDF and Shin Bet for the “outstanding collaboration” in the special operation.

Bennett added that “redeeming prisoners is a Jewish value that became one of the holiest values of the State of Israel…It defines us and makes us unique. We will continue to act to bring all our sons home from anywhere.”

The prime minister also said that he informed Arad’s family of the operation. His relatives told Channel 12 that they “continue to hope that maybe one day we will know what was Ron’s fate.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett:

“Last month, female and male Mossad agents set off for a mission to gather new information on the fate and location of Ron Arad.

It was a courageous mission.

This is all that can be shared at this time.” pic.twitter.com/SU4I3R3Xlh

— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) October 4, 2021

Arad was captured on October 16, 1986, after a bomb his plane dropped caused damage to the aircraft, forcing him and the plane’s pilot to bail out. The pilot was saved, but Arad was taken by Lebanese Shiite group Amal, and later transferred to Iranian forces. 

Arad sent three letters from captivity, and two photos of him were released. Israel lost track of Arad in 1988. 

There have been several Israeli operations to get more information about Arad’s fate, including the capture of Hezbollah members and offering a $10 million reward. A joint report by Mossad and the IDF determined in 2016 that Arad likely died in 1988. 

A spokesman for Bennett would only say that the reason for the announcement was to “update Knesset members.”

Asked if it was connected to a likely upcoming trip by the prime minister to Moscow, the spokesman said no. No date has been set for the visit, but Bennett agreed to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Russian military found the remains of Israeli missing soldier Zachary Baumel in 2019, returning them to Israel. Russia maintains a military presence in Syria. 

Bennett also said in his speech that under his leadership, he strengthened Israel’s relationship with the United States, “despite those who have been trying to harm our effort,” a reference to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two current and former prime ministers did not shake hands between their speeches – though they did so earlier Monday, at a memorial for former president Shimon Peres – and Netanyahu accused Bennett of being at fault for every COVID-19 death since he took over. 

 Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 5, 2021. (credit: SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS) Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, September 5, 2021. (credit: SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Criticizing Bennett’s speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said Bennett should have attacked Iran’s leader, instead of Israel’s top healthcare professionals.

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