Report: Iran Actively Looking for Missing Israelis in Lebanon, Syria

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad is seen in this undated handout picture released by Israel’s Channel Ten news on July 13, 2008 taken while being held captive after bailing out over Lebanon in 1986. (Photo courtesy Channel 10 via Flash 90)

Iran has been searching for Israeli soldiers still missing in Lebanon, as well as Israeli spy Eli Cohen, a report in Arab media said. The Iranians intend to use the Israelis or their remains as “bargaining chips” on issues like Syrian deployment of forces on the Golan, the Arabic-language version of the U.K. Independent reported. Iranian forces on the ground in Syria are searching for the soldiers.

Last month, Israel received the remains of missing soldier Zecharia Baumel, Hy”d, 37 years after he went missing. Baumel was one of three IDF soldiers, together with fellow soldiers Yehuda Katz, and Zvi Feldman who went missing in a key battle in the Lebanon War on June 11, 1982 at Sultan Yakoub in Lebanon. Iran is said to be looking for these soldiers, as well as missing airman Ron Arad, and Cohen.

The report quoted sources in Lebanon that the Israelis or their remains could be either in Lebanon or Syria, as they may have been moved after their capture or death. Baumel’s remains were found in a refugee camp in Syria, but the Iranians are searching elsewhere as well.

Israel released two Syrian prisoners after Baumel’s remains were returned, but said that there had not been a specific deal to do so. The Independent said that Syria had sought to attain the release of two Syrian spies who had helped Iran and Hezbollah, but that Israel refused.