TEL AVIV (Aug. 12)
Little is known about the fate of the seven Israeli servicemen missing in Lebanon. But there is firm belief that at least one of them, air force navigator Ron Arad, is alive and well.
An air force jet carrying Arad and a pilot was shot down over Lebanon in October 1986. The two parachuted safely to the ground.
The pilot was picked up shortly after his landing, in a daring helicopter rescue operation. But the rescue squad failed to find Arad, who was captured by a Shi’ite group and has been held prisoner ever since. Reports received in recent months said that he was alive and well.
The other six are listed as “missing in action.”
Sgt. Zacharia Baumel, Sgt. Zvi Feldman and Cpl. Yehuda Katz are the longest held in captivity. They were members of a tank crew hit during a battle with Syrian forces in the Bekaa Valley in 1982, in the early stages of the Lebanon War.
Samir Assad, an Israeli Druse, was captured by terrorists in Lebanon eight years ago. His family and the defense establishment do not accept a terrorist claim that he was killed seven years ago in an Israeli air force raid.
Yossi Fink and Rachamim Alsheikh were members of a Givati Brigade unit engaged in military activities in Lebanon when they were captured in February 1986.
In addition, the commander of the South Lebanon Army, Gen. Antoine Lehad, disclosed Sunday that seven of his soldiers are currently being held by terrorist forces in Lebanon.