Missing IAF navigator Ron Arad was tortured and killed in 1988

Lebanese media said on Saturday that missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad died in 1988, two years after his capture, as a result of torture.

Arad, an Air Force navigator, ejected from his Phantom jet fighter when it was hit by ground fire while on a bombing raid in October 1986. Israel managed to rescue the pilot who ejected with him, but Arad was captured by the Lebanese Shiite group Amal. He was then handed over to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

While in captivity Arad was reportedly sent to Iran and then back to Lebanon.

Three hand-written letters and a single photograph were subsequently received by Israel in 1987, which prompted Israeli authorities to initiate negotiations for his return that ultimately collapsed in 1988.

In 2008 the organization informed Israel that he had been killed during an escape attempt in 1988.

Since then, Israel has received no information about Arad.

While his body has still not been recovered, it is widely assumed that Arad was executed while in captivity.

The Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star reported on a military tribunal, in which five people are under investigation for allegedly being in contact with Israel. One of these suspects told the court that he knows what happened to Arad.

According to the Daily Star report, the man, named as Moufeed K., said that he was serving as an official in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s military wing in 1988. The group had a captive, which they relocated to the town of Dhour Choueir, 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Beirut.

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Moufeed claimed that he did not know the identity of the captive at the time, and that he did not remember if the prisoner was wearing an Israeli uniform.

He ordered his men to clean up the captive and left. His men told him that the prisoner had died shortly after.

Moufeed told the court that “they told me that he had entered the bathroom and stayed there for a long time…When they went to check on him they found him dead,” said the Daily Star.

“Of course he passed away due to exhaustion and of course he was subject to beatings and torture as that is how interrogations happen,” he added.

Arad’s name resurfaced in the media ten years later, Moufeed said, and he “went to our base to ask the young men who were involved where they had buried our prisoner.”

Moufeed claimed that after taking his men to the burial site to confirm that the body was Arad’s, he and two men, also defendants at the tribunal named as Elias D. and Mahdi D. sought a meeting with then-Lebanese president Emile Lahoud.

The Daily Star said that the judge adjourned the trial until April 20 and closed the proceedings to the public.

The report comes days after the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Lebanese media reported that the former defense and operations chief of Hezbollah had vowed to find traces of Arad.

Mughniyeh, whose 2008 assassination has been largely attributed to Israel, formed a special unit dedicated to tracking down information related to Arad to be used in potential prisoner swap deal with Israel, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.