Ron Arad - AP
Missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad. Photo by AP
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Israel had the chance to buy the return of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, former IDF chief Dan Halutz said on Saturday.

"We had the opportunity to pay money in order to buy Arad's freedom but because of national considerations, we decided not to do it," Halutz said while speaking at a cultural event in Be'er Sheva.

Halutz made the reference to Arad in order to opine on the current predicament of freeing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was snatched by Gaza-militants in 2006 during a cross-border raid.

"Shalit's kidnapping occurred while I was IDF chief and I understand the frustration," Halutz said. "If it had been possible to do something immediately, we would have done it."

Halutz said they were lacking the intelligence needed to take direct action, although he felt that Hamas should be struck immediately.

"I was of the opinion that we needed to strike Hamas immediately after the kidnapping, and not stop until Gilad was returned."

"Unfortunately, even now we don't have the intelligence needed to do something," Halutz added.