Eight months later, Netanyahu calls ex-minister who lost soldier son on Oct. 7

Former science and technology minister Izhar Shay says he urged PM ‘to call or visit to console families of the fallen and murdered, even those who did not vote for him’

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Izhar Shay poses at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Izhar Shay poses at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Eight months after his son was killed fighting Hamas on October 7, former science and technology minister Izhar Shay tweeted on Thursday that he had finally received a condolence call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Only days after complaining online that he had not heard from the prime minister, Shay wrote that following the end of Wednesday’s Shavuot holiday, Netanyahu picked up the phone and “expressed to me his deep shock that he had not heard about it until now.”

Described by his father as a “perfect, beloved child,” Staff Sgt. Yaron Oree Shay, 21, a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces’ Nahal Brigade, was killed on October 7 during fierce clashes with Hamas terrorists in the area of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom near the border with the Gaza Strip.

“I told the prime minister that I personally did not need this call, but when I expressed criticism I was speaking on behalf of everyone he has not bothered to call to this day, the families of those murdered… the families of the hostages who were murdered, the families of the kibbutzniks, the families of the [military’s] ‘failures,’ not only the families of the success stories,” he tweeted — referring to Netanyahu’s recent visit to four hostages rescued from terrorist captivity in the Gaza Strip.

The prime minister has drawn criticism for making that visit without having made similar trips in the past to families of hostages who died.

In his tweet, Shay recalled telling Netanyahu that “he was responsible for everything that happened here, not just the successes, that he was supposed to be the prime minister of all of us, not just his voters, and that I am expressing the pain of millions of citizens who do not have a prime minister who addresses their pain.”

Yaron Oree Shay, who was killed in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on October 7, 2023, in an undated photo from his father Izhar Shay. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law).

Shay, who represented Benny Gantz’s former Blue and White party between 2019 and 2021, urged Netanyahu “to call or visit to console the families of the fallen and murdered, even those who did not vote for him, even those who did not fall in heroic battles but rather those whose deaths symbolize the terrible disaster, the failure and the great pain of all the citizens of the State of Israel following” October 7.

The call came after the former minister tweeted a photo of his son standing behind Netanyahu, describing himself as “one of those bereaved parents whom the prime minister did not bother to call,” adding that “a moral and honorable prime minister would have called to comfort and strengthen” us.

Last December, Shay told Army Radio Tuesday that he had received threats and abuse since the death of his son.

“People write things like, ‘It’s a good thing your traitorous son died because he opened the gate to terrorists’ — just because I dared to criticize the prime minister,” Shay said. “They wrote, ‘It’s a shame more people in your family didn’t die. One is not enough.’”

In that interview, Shay called on Netanyahu to condemn such sentiments “from his supporters” and to take personal responsibility for the failures that led to the October 7 massacres.

“[Yaron] fell in a heroic battle — he and a handful of other brave soldiers defended Kibbutz Kerem Shalom with their lives against hundreds of terrorists,” Shay said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with rescued hostage Noa Argamani, her father Yaakov and family at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. (GPO)

Since his son’s death, Shay, a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, has called on fellow tech investors and founders to join his initiative to commit to founding a new startup for each of the victims of the attacks, and for those who gave their lives to protect the country.

“Over the next 12 months, for every fallen soldier, for every murdered civilian, let’s put together a new innovative startup that will build a product or service that will serve thousands of companies and/or millions of people around the world,” he said at the time.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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