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The Prime Minister's Office yesterday said that Israel is continuing to seek information on and the return to Israel of missing aviator Ron Arad. The statement was released after a former German official who negotiated prisoner swaps between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia was quoted as saying that Arad is dead.

Over the years, the Prime Minister's Office's press release states, many reports have been received from many sources, some official, about the fate of Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986.

"These reports have all been examined by the intelligence community, but we unfortunately have no evidence of his fate."

A transcript of a documentary on Germany's WDR television yesterday evening states that German intelligence officials believe Arad died in 1996, after he was handed by Lebanese fighters to their Iranian sponsors.

"The only question remains whether he died of an illness, of an injury related to his crash, or was killed. But that he is dead is clear," former German intelligence chief Bernd Schmidbauer told the program, entitled "An eye for an eye."