'I love you': Ron Arad's letters to wife and daughter

Ron Arad

Ron Arad

Letters that were written by captured Israeli navigator Ron Arad soon after he went missing but never sent have been shown in public for the first time.

The letters were shown on Israeli television last week. They date back to 1986, the year that he was kidnapped by terrorists from the Shia group Amal. He was taken after his aircraft was shot down near Sidon, Lebanon, during the height of the first Lebanon war. At the time he was 28 and had recently become a father.

The handwritten missives, on pages torn out of books, show a loving husband and father who is desperate to come home. In one he wrote that dreaming about his wife "gave me a few moments of happiness".

He also wrote wrote: "It will take a year, two years, but I will return. I will never leave you again.

"To my dearest of all, Tami and Yuval, I am trying to forget you because I get a lump on my throat with every memory.

"I love you, and you are the only reason keeping me from thinking about the worst of all."

Photocopies of the letters have been in the Arad family's possession for three years, given back when Israel swapped prisoners for the bodies of two other captured soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Arad wrote the address on the letters but his captors never sent them.

Although it is understood that Arad was handed to Iranian Revolutionary Guards operating in Lebanon two years after he was taken, little concrete information is known about his fate. Without that, Israel's official position is that he should still be considered as alive.

After Gilad Shalit was freed in a prisoner exchange deal last month, the chief of staff for the Israel Defence Forces vowed that the army would "do everything in our power to bring back all those missing or held captive".

Last updated: 3:48pm, November 7 2011