IDF Determines Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, Previously Considered Missing, Is Dead

Special committee led by Chief Rabbi of the IDF concludes that Shaul is 'a soldier killed in action whose burial site is unknown.'

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An APC near the Gaza border, July 20, 2014. The M113 was built in the 1960s and less well armored than later models.Credit: Reuters

The IDF determined on Friday that Givati Brigade soldier Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul died in battle, and defined him as "a soldier killed in action whose burial site is unknown."

A special committee led by the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brigadier General Rafi Peretz, notified the soldier's family of their decision.

In a statement, the IDF said that "prior to the decision, all the religious, medical and further relevant issues were taken into consideration."

"In light of this definition," the statement added, and "according to the Jewish religion, the family is not obligated to conduct a funeral, nor is the family obligated to sit through a 'Shiva,' the traditional mourning period of seven days."

According to the IDF, there are 173 soldiers whose burial site is unknown. In these cases, the IDF has reliable evidence that the soldiers had been killed in battle, but it is unclear where their bodies are. The chief IDF rabbi has the authority to declare the death of soldiers in these circumstances, but the decision is based on conclusive evidence.

In the case of Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, the evidence was collected from the APC that was attacked last Sunday.

Following the attack, Hamas claimed it had captured "a Zionist soldier," with a spokesman identifying him as "Shaul Aron" and reciting what he said was Oron's identity tag number.

Fallen Israeli soldier Oron Shaul.Credit: Reuters