The mother of a fallen soldier whose body is being held by Hamas accused a former chief military rabbi of “hastening” to declare his death and refusing to explain how it was determined her son had died.
Speaking during a ceremony to commemorate the 23rd birthday of her son Oron Shaul, who was killed while fighting in Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in 2014, Zehava Shaul also implored IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to secure the return of her son’s body.
Since his body was captured by Hamas in July 2014, Shaul’s family has waged a public campaign for the return of his remains, including by setting up protest tents outside of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Eisenkot have vowed to do everything in their power to return Shaul’s body to his family, with Netanyahu saying at the funeral of Shaul’s father Herzl Shaul in September that “our commitment is to bring Oron home.”
During her speech, Shaul explained how five days after the kidnapping, then-chief military rabbi Rafi Peretz arrived at her family’s home just one hour before Shabbat — the Jewish day of rest, during which Orthodox Jews refrain from work or use of cars and electronics — to inform the family of the soldier’s death. She said, “We requested explanations, but the answer [we received] was that the rabbi had to return home before the start of Shabbat.”
She added, “We have been waiting for answers ever since.”
Shaul also accused Peretz of having “hastened to declare Oron’s death in contrast to all accepted practices and Jewish law,” saying that it was unknown after he was kidnapped whether he was still alive.
Turning to the chief of staff, Shaul said her son “is not everyone’s child, but he is the child of Zionist parents born in Israel.”
She was referring to Eisenkot’s speech earlier in the week in which he alluded to the widespread public sentiment that an IDF soldier who killed a wounded stabber in Hebron is “everyone’s child.”
Shaul cited the IDF’s code of ethics for why her son’s body must be returned, saying that the army’s values are “what differentiates it from every other army in the world and what gives parents the emotional calm and security to send their children to mandatory service in the IDF.”
She also called on the government to ensure her son’s body is returned.