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Ron Arad
Ofer Dekel
Photo: Oren Agmon
Hizbullah turns over letter from Ron Arad
Letter, photograph of captive IAF navigator turned over as part of recent prisoners' exchange deal. Arad's wife recognized handwriting, letter's authenticity unquestionable

As part of the prisoners' exchange deal between Israel and Lebanon, which took place last week, the Hizbullah handed over a letter written by Ron Arad in 1986 and a photograph of him.

 

Tami Arad, Ron Arad's wife, was called to the Defense Ministry's offices in Tel Aviv, where Ofer Dekel, former Shin Bet deputy chief, who was recently appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to oversee Israel's negotiation efforts regarding the kidnapped IDF soldiers, handed it over to her.

 

Tami Arad arrived at the meeting along with Ron's brother Dudu. The Defense Ministry's staff made sure a paramedic was stationed outside the room, fearing the situation might be too much for her.

 

According to reports, Arad's letter to his wife was lengthy and he wrote of his love for her, their daughter and his family. Tami Arad, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday, recognized her husband's handwriting and the pet names used in it and burst into tears as she saw the photo – a photo no one new existed until now.

 

The letter's authenticity, said sources in the Defense Ministry, was unquestionable.

 

The inevitable conclusion

Along with the letter and photograph, Hizbullah also turned over parts of the organization's report on Arad's captivity. The report detailed the efforts made by Hizbullah to discover what became of Arad, as well as the inevitable conclusion – they simply don't know.

 

The defense establishment has begun studying the report and is likely to ask the Hizbullah – through German mediator Conrad Gerhard – for more detailed information.

 

The information received would play an important role in the decision whether or not Israel will offer the Hizbullah the release of Samir Kuntar in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

 

"Samir Kuntar will not be a part of any prisoner exchange deal… we will not release him without receiving concrete information regarding Ron Arad," Dekel was quoted in an article published in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.

 

According to the Der Spiegel, Dekel admitted that Israel is "no where near finalizing a prisoner exchanged involving Goldwasser and Regev."

 

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