Attorney: Releasing Lebanese failed to yield info on Arad
The Jerusalem Post
Jan 9, 2000
By Dan Izenberg
JERUSALEM (January 9) - The government has not received any
information from Hizbullah regarding Ron Arad in exchange
for releasing five Lebanese prisoners held hostage for 13
years, attorney Zvi Rish told a panel of nine High Court
justices hearing his petition for the release of 16 others.
Formally, Rish represents eight of the 16 still being held.
But if his petition is accepted, it is likely most, or all,
of the Lebanese still being held in administrative detention
without charges will be released.
On Friday, the court convened at the state's request to hear
an update on ongoing attempts to determine the fate of air
force navigator Ron Arad, shot down and captured in southern
Lebanon in 1986, and three other missing soldiers and the
link between those efforts and the imprisonment of the Lebanese
hostages. There have been unofficial reports that the release
of the five hostages was part of a three-way deal involving
Israel, Lebanon and Germany whereby Israel would receive
information about Arad, Iran would ameliorate the plight of 13
Jews on trial for treason, a German citizen sentenced to death
in Iran would be freed and the five Lebanese hostages would go
A day after the release of the hostages, Hizbullah deputy
secretary-general Naim Kassem said his group would try to get
information about Arad to obtain the release of the remaining
16, including Mustafa Dirani, who held Arad for a time, and
Sheikh Abdel-Karim Obeid.
The hearing was held behind closed doors. The state asked the
court for permission to present new evidence to strengthen
its arguments against releasing the hostages.
Before reporters were asked to leave the courtroom, Rish asked
the justices not to admit new evidence into the hearing for
procedural reasons. He added that there was nothing new in the
state's claim that it was approaching a critical point in its
efforts to obtain information about Arad. "For eight years
they have been saying the same thing," he said. "Nothing has
Rish said the release of the five Lebanese hostages had nothing
directly to do with the Hizbullah and Israel.
"It involved relations between Germany and Iran," he said. "It
was aimed at the release of a German sentenced to death by Iran.
"Nothing specific was determined with regard to Ron Arad."
The court then heard the testimony of security officials
and informed the sides it would rule on the admissibility
of the evidence and the petition itself at a later date.