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Hezbollah claims Israeli airman dead for 10 years

Latest update : 2008-07-04

A Hezbollah report sent to the Israeli government has revealed that Ron Arad, an Israeli navigator reported missing since 1986, has been dead for more than 10 years.

Israel received a report from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia that an Israeli airman reported missing in Lebanon since 1986 has been dead for more than 10 years, the Haaretz daily reported on Friday.
   
Israel had demanded that the militia provide a report on the fate of navigator Ron Arad as a precondition for a prisoner swap expected to take place in about 10 days.
   
In the report Hezbollah describes its efforts to locate Arad, says it failed to find him but concludes he has been dead for more than a decade, the daily said.
   
The report was passed to Ofer Dekel, the Israeli negotiator in the prisoner swap talks that are being held through a UN mediator.
   
As part of the deal Israel delivered a report on the fate of four Iranian diplomats who disappered in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, saying that the men were dead.
   
It said they were killed by a Christian militia in Lebanon after being stopped at a roadblock, and that it was unclear where their remains are.
   
Iran's embassy in Lebanon insisted on Thursday that the four are still alive and being held in Israel.
   
The exchange of reports was the first step in a deal under which Hezbollah will hand over the remains of two Israeli soldiers in exchange for prisoners.
   
Hezbollah is to release the remains of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev whom the Israeli authorities say died after they were captured by Hezbollah in a July 2006 cross-border raid that sparked a 34-day war in Lebanon.
   
In exchange Israel will free five jailed Lebanese prisoners, among them Samir Kantar, a Palestine Liberation Front militant serving a 542-year sentence for the brutal killing of two men and a four-year-old girl in a 1979 raid on northern Israel.Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday said a prisoner exchange between his Lebanese Shiite movement and Israel would take place within the next two weeks.
  
"I officially announce that the accord has been accepted from our part and the matter closed, and we will respect the steps which are to be taken, God willing," he said at a news conference held by videolink.
  
"I will not set an exact date. The sooner it takes place the better," Nasrallah said. "I believe that in a week or two it will be implemented... July 15 is the most probable, a bit before or a bit after."

Date created : 2008-07-04

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