Arad: 21st anniversay of disappearance

'We won't believe until we receive substantive proof'

Family and friends of Ron Arad mark 21st anniversary of his disappearance, are doubtful new information will reveal anything new

On the morning after the most recent prisoner and body exchange between Israel and Hizbullah, friends of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad are skeptical that any new information on his whereabouts will turn up.


Even the report from the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper that letters Arad penned have been turned over to Israel is not raising their hopes very high.


Ronen Merav, a friend of the Arad family who met Ron in flight school, said that he had spoken with Chen Arad, Ron's brother, before he left for Germany a few days preceding the latest Israeli-Hizbullah exchange.


"From what we know, only scraps of information (regarding Arad's fate) were received. I don't think that this (the recent exchange) helps further the issue of Ron Arad," Merav told Ynet in a conversation Tuesday.


"Hizbullah is a cruel and cynical enemy. There have been incidents like this in the past and, in the end, it turns out they were deceiving us," Merav continued.


"This seems like the incident with the video cassette from last year," he said.


"Viewing this as a Ron's friend, I am very skeptical of the outcome of the latest exchange. I don't want to speak for the Arad family, but I think in some ways, Chen shares my sentiments—aside from the latest deal. What is most important is today's date, October 16th, the 21st anniversary of Ron's disappearance," the family friend explained.


Better than nothing

Despite his pessimistic outlook regarding obtaining information on Ron Arad's whereabouts, Merav does find some things to be optimistic about.


"I am also a citizen of the state, and if this deal furthers negotiations with the other side, which still holds others besides Ron—I am for it," Merav said.


Doron Weinkov, another family friend who also met Ron during flight school also sounded skeptical.


"According to foreign reports, we are talking about a letter from 19 years ago, so it doesn't seem that this is going to be something new, but we are optimistic—this issue needs to be resolved already," the Arad acquaintance said in a conversation with Ynet Tuesday morning.


"After so many disappointments, expectations have been minimized. We don't jump up and exclaim 'it's finally happening' each time. I don't want to sound cynical, but 21 years is a long time.


"Until we discover some substantive evidence, we won't believe. For his family, handwritten letters from Ron is something and it's a lot better than nothing," Weinkov said.


פרסום ראשון: 10.16.07, 12:22
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