It is not common to hear about Mossad operations from the leaders of Israel, they are never made public officially and less when they have not gone well. The hidden war between Israelis and Iranians has no borders and this week it has fought a new chapter that includes the kidnapping of an Iranian general deployed in Syria.
The all-powerful intelligence corps in charge of missions abroad in Israel launched “an audacious, daring and complex operation” to try to obtain information on the whereabouts of the pilot Ron Arad, captured in Lebanon 35 years ago, “but it did not go well, it was a failure ”, declared the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, as revealed by Channel 12 of Israeli television. Defense sources consulted by the Haaretz newspaper confirmed that this mission was carried out “in various fields” and regretted that “we finally did not obtain the expected information.” Although once again it is clear that Israel does not forget its own.
The first Minister, Naftali Bennet, was the one who announced the existence of this operation during the opening of the political course in parliament after two months without sessions. The ultra-conservative leader limited himself to saying that it was “a complex, extensive and daring operation” and shortly after came the messages from Barnea and the Defense leaks about the bad result.
What did the Mossad do this time to try to find Arad’s whereabouts? The Arab media revealed a double movement in Syria and Lebanon. The London-based newspaper Rai al-Youm claimed that Israeli services kidnapped an Iranian general in Syria and transferred him to a country in North Africa for questioning and later release. The Al Arabiya channel also reported a Mossad movement in the town of Nabi Sheet, in Lebanon, where Israeli agents would have carried out a DNA test on a buried body to examine the possibility that it could be Arad. They did not get the expected result.
This pilot was captured on October 16, 1986 when his plane was damaged during a bombardment in Lebanon. The two pilots managed to jump from the aircraft, but Arad ended up in the hands of the Shiite Amal militia and later transferred to Iranian forces. During the first two years of captivity he sent three letters and two photos as proof of life, but his trail was permanently lost in 1988. Israel has launched numerous operations to try to locate him and even offered 10 million dollars in reward, but continues not knowing what happened to Arad. A joint report by the Mossad and the Army concluded in 2016 that the pilot most likely died in 1988, according to Haaretz.
Iran did not ignore the maneuver of the Jewish state and, according to media such as Rai al-Youm or the Israeli press itself, it responded to the kidnapping of its general with the attempted assassination of Israeli businessmen in Cyprus. Matan Sidi, Bennet’s spokesman, was the one who denounced that the assassination attempt suffered by millionaire Teddy Sagi was a “terrorist attack” by the Islamic Republic and not “a crime between rivals.”
David Ben Gurion, prime minister and one of the founders of Israel, created Mossad in 1949, a year after the establishment of the state. The goal was to ensure the country’s security in a hostile Middle East and the service began to bear fruit from the first moment thanks to the direct connection of the Jewish communities with each country in the region. 72 years later its activity is incessant and it has become the key body in the hidden war that the Jewish State is waging with its greatest regional enemy: Iran.