Ron Arad Film Producer: Footage Will Not Shed New Light

Israeli involved in Lebanese production told Army Radio that the footage was taken over 15 years ago.

According to Naftali Glicksberg, an Israeli television producer involved in producing the program on Hezbollah for Lebanese television channel LBC, the footage of captured navigator Ron Arad is very old and was almost certainly taken before December 1989. Glicksberg also stated that the shooting location of the footage cannot be determined.

In an interview with Army Radio, Glicksberg said the footage cannot shed new light on Arad?s kidnapping, due both to the time of its shooting and to the fact that it contains only close-ups of Arad.

Glicksberg reported that an additional Israeli producer and a French production company were also involved in the production. He stated that he saw the footage of Arad a year ago in Paris, and that in it, Arad appears speaking Hebrew. He added that the arad film is ?very short,? and appears credible.

Glicksberg said that as far as he knows, most of the Arad footage was supplied by the Amal movement, and not by Hezbollah. He had found out that the film was scheduled to air four months ago, but was cancelled due to internal Lebanese circumstances.

The defense establishment is looking into the footage broadcast Monday by LBC, depicting Arad. The channel aired a short preview for a documentary on Hezbollah and the Arad story scheduled to air next week. Arad appears in the preview for several seconds of video footage.

The preview promised that the film would feature Arad's voice, but it provided no details regarding the date the footage was taken or the manner in which the channel obtained it.

Israeli officials have yet to respond or determine whether the footage is indeed of the captured navigator.

The video footage features a bearded Arad, his appearance resembling that in the still images supplied to Israel during the period of negotiations for his release. If the footage is indeed from the same time frame, it would be dated within the first year and half in which the Shiite Amal organization held Arad captive. Contact with Arad was later terminated, when Israel bombed the south Lebanon village Maydoun.

Israel has since heard several scenarios of the circumstances under which communication was lost - a central one being that Arad was taken by Mustafa Dirani, a member of the Amal security service, who transferred him to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, or to parties close to the guard, in exchange for money.

Ron Arad's family members reckoned on Monday that the man in the film is indeed Arad. His brother Hen Arad stated Monday that "the family has decided not to comment on the issue of the tape at the present time." That said, Hen Arad confirmed that the family was able to determine that the footage was indeed of Ron. He added that the family members saw the tape for the first time on Monday and had no prior knowledge of it.

Reports on Monday also indicated that parties close to the family said the family did not intend on getting involved with the matter, as it is an issue for the state to comment on and not the family, but the brother did not know what parties close to the family spoke on behalf of the family.

According to LBC, the footage of Arad is exclusive. The channel was established by Christian forces in Lebanon, but is currently also owned by Saudi parties and the Al-Hayat newspaper, whose offices are located in London and Beirut. The channel is regarded as credible in relation to other Lebanese and Arab channels.

One of the channel's senior correspondents, May Chidiac, recently began broadcasting again following a year's absence after a bomb exploded in her car. The explosion was attributed to Syrian intelligence authorities as part of their battle against Lebanese journalists and politicians who demanded the Syrian Army's expulsion from Lebanon.

The television channel refused to give further details on Mondy regarding the video footage to be broadcast next week. A channel employee reported by phone that "all we can say is that it will air on September 6 at 19:30."

The channel correspondent in London said Monday that he has no knowledge regarding the program that will feature the footage of Arad.

Ron Arad was captured in October of 1986 by the Amal organization, headed by Nabih Beri, today chairman of the Lebanese parliament. His Phantom jet was on an offensive mission against a terrorist tent-encampment in south Lebanon. During the attack, a bomb Arad released from the jet exploded and hit the jet following a technical fault.

Arad and pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ishay parachuted and reached the ground safely. The navigator was apparently injured during the descent and the wind carried his parachute towards Amal troops.

The pilot was extracted by a Cobra helicopter sent in search of the two. Israel negotiated for a year and a half with representatives of Nabih Beri through Ori Lobrani, the operations coordinator for the Israeli government in Lebanon. Lobrani even met with Beri at the time in a secret London meeting.

During the negotiations, Israel received a picture of Arad, as well as letters and regards through Red Cross representatives.

Beri had demanded the release of terrorists from Israel in exchange for returning the navigator, but Yizhak Rabin, the defense minister at the time, backed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, believed the price to be too high and that a better deal could be made.

The Arad family maintains that the intelligence community and the governments of Israel have failed in dealing with the matter and has thus established an association, for which it has managed, through public support, to receive government funding. The association offers a 10 million dollar reward for information on Ron Arad.

Following petitions to the High Court of Justice and complaints from the family members of the three soldiers missing from the Sultan Ya?acov battle and the family or missing soldier Guy Haver, the promised reward will also go to whoever supplies information on them.