Ron Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator, was taken captive in Lebanon by Shi’a forces in 1986.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
In a speech opening the first session of the Knesset since its summer recess, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency had recently embarked on a mission to determine the whereabouts and fate of a long-missing Israeli soldier.
“Last month, Mossad agents, men and women, embarked on a complex, wide-ranging and daring operation to find the remains and whereabouts of Ron Arad,” said the premier.
Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator who was taken captive in Lebanon by Shi’a forces in 1986, has not been heard from since 1988.
A report from the Mossad and the IDF, which was released in 2016, indicated that Arad had likely perished then.
Bennett declined to elaborate on the mission or its findings, saying “that is all that can be said at the moment.”
He lauded Israel’s security agencies and the IDF for their “outstanding collaboration” in the operation.
“Redeeming prisoners is a Jewish value that became one of the most sacred values of the State of Israel. This is the kind of thing that seems strange, perhaps a little out of proportion, to those who look at the State of Israel from the outside, but this is what defines us and sets us apart.””
Arad’s family told Channel 12 News that they “continue to hope that maybe one day we will know what was Ron’s fate.”
Much like his first speech after becoming prime minister, Bennett’s remarks were met with jeers, heckling, and booing.
President Isaac Herzog chided lawmakers and called for decorum.
“The day-to-day clashes in this…style, the bluntness – that’s what our kids are seeing,” he said.
“[We] must find a way to return to a respectful discourse between the coalition and the opposition, and between the opposition and the coalition.”
Bennett blamed criticism of his government on the previous Netanyahu administration.
“This government was sworn in 113 days ago. These have been days full of work. Many of the country’s areas of activity were covered in a layer of dust, neglect,” charged Bennett.
“Two years of inaction, of procrastination and stagnation – from the Iranian nuclear program, through housing prices to endless traffic jams. Everything was neglected while we were busy with four elections and one pandemic.”