Since Israel’s independence in May 1948, over 400 Israeli soldiers have been declared missing in action (MIA). Of these soldiers, the fate of five men is still unknown. They are: Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz who were captured in 1982, Ron Arad captured in 1986, and Guy Hever who went missing in 1997. The IDF operates according to a moral responsibility to bring home its soldiers, and as such, both the army and the government go to great lengths to locate and return soldiers to Israel. However, despite political and military efforts by Israel, the fate of these soldiers is still not known.
- On June 11, 1982, in a battle with Syrian forces, five Israeli soldiers went missing in a battle near the village of Sultan Yaqub in Lebanon. Two of the soldiers were later returned to Israel in a prisoner exchanges with Syria but the three remaining soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, and Tzvi Feldman are still missing to this day. Over the years, Syrian officials have made many references to information regarding the soldiers, but nevertheless, they have not been willing to negotiate any type of exchange.
- On October 16, 1986, Israeli air-force navigator Ron Arad, was taken captive after his F-4 Phantom warplane went down over Lebanon. After an explosion under the wing of the plane sent it into a tailspin, Arad and the pilot both managed to parachute safely to the ground. In a daring rescue operation, the IDF succeeded in airlifting the pilot out of enemy territory under fire while he hung on to the bottom of an IDF helicopter. Unfortunately, the outcome for Arad was very different; he was captured by a Lebanese terrorist group, which at the time was headed by Nabih Berri, who later became the speaker of the Lebanese parliament. Despite initial proof in the form of a letter and photograph that Arad was alive, it was later reported that he was sold to an Iranian backed group. To this day, it is not known if Arad is still living and if so, where he is being held.
- On August 17, 1997, IDF soldier Guy Hever disappeared while serving in the Golan Heights. It was thought that he was kidnapped. A Syrian organization, as well as other terrorists groups, has periodically claimed to be holding Hever in captivity, but Israel has doubted the veracity of these reports.
Check out this website for more information on Israel’s MIA’s: http://www.miauk.org.uk/index.php
Watch this YouTube video with the latest information regarding Ron Arad, as well as video footage depicting his capture: