[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Israel examines 'Arad remains'
Ron Arad
Israeli pilot Ron Arad has been missing since 1986
Israeli forensic scientists are examining bone fragments to see if they belong to the missing airman Ron Arad, Israeli sources say.

The sources said the remains had been handed over by a Lebanese group, but did not say if that was Hezbollah.

There have been reports that Hezbollah is about to swap Arad's remains for a Lebanese prisoner held in Israel.

The Israeli pilot was shot down over Lebanon 18 years ago, but his fate has never been confirmed.

Month of tests

Israel has said it believes he was held alive in Lebanon for some time after bailing out of his plane.

Israel Radio said it would be about a month before the results of the examination were known - but that defence officials were far from convinced the bones would turn out to be Arad's.

Israel has demanded proof of his fate before it will free Samir al-Qantar, a Lebanese gunman who killed four Israelis, including two children, in an attack in Galilee in 1979.

In a previous prisoner swap in January, 436 Arab prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters were handed over in return for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.

'Spin'

An Arab source close to the exchange talks told Reuters that "Arad is dead and Hezbollah has his remains".

The source said the group also had the remains of three Israeli soldiers who went missing on an operation in Lebanon in 1982.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted senior government sources who dismissed reports of an imminent swap involving Arad's remains as "media spin".


SEE ALSO:
Prisoner deal delights Arab press
26 Jan 04  |  Middle East
Sharon defends prisoner swap deal
25 Jan 04  |  Middle East
Israel prisoner exchange agreed
24 Jan 04  |  Middle East
Israel press agonises over swap
25 Jan 04  |  Middle East
Hezbollah 'held' Israeli pilot
12 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Who are Hezbollah?
04 Apr 02  |  Middle East


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific