Parents of Fallen Israeli Soldier Appeal to Hamas for Info on His Whereabouts

A year and a half after missing fighter declared dead during Gaza war, his mother demands Hamas leader ‘provide proof of son’s condition.’

Zahava Shaul, mother of fallen IDF soldier Oron Shaul, gives a press conference on December 13, 2015.
Gil Eliahu

The parents of Oron Shaul, the Golani Brigade fighter who was declared a fallen soldier whose burial place is unknown during the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, called on the Hamas leadership to give them information about their son's whereabouts.

“I know this has a price,” said Zahava Shaul, at a press conference the family convened at their home in Poriya, near Tiberias, to issue an open call to Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh. Addressing him directly, Shaul said she would push the state and the world to make a deal “the moment that you provide proof of my son’s true condition.” Hamas has yet to respond.

Staff-Sgt. Shaul, 20, was one of the soldiers in the armored personnel carrier that suffered a direct hit from an RPG rocket in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City in July 2014. Only six of the seven soldiers killed were identified. Shaul was at first declared missing, but was later declared dead, and the family sat shiva for him.

At the press conference the parents called on both Haniyeh and on the State of Israel to clarify what had happened to their son. “It’s important for us to stress that we, the family, have no solid or substantiated information about whether Oron is alive or not, wounded or dead, and we are in a state of uncertainty,” Shaul’s mother said. “The situation as it’s been till now cannot continue. For a year and a half nothing has happened. This has to change.”

In her message to Haniyeh, she stressed that Israel is a humanitarian country that provides medical care to the families of Hamas leaders, transfers food to Gaza and releases terrorists. She denied that the family had received a letter from Hamas about her son’s condition.

Reuters

Sources in Gaza said that if Hamas chooses to respond, Haniyeh will do so tomorrow during his address at a rally marking the 28th anniversary of the movement’s founding.

In the past, Hamas leaders, among them Khaled Meshaal, said that any information regarding captive soldiers comes at a price. Hamas is also conditioning any negotiations on the release of those who were freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011, but who were rearrested after the kidnapping-murder of the three teens in Gush Etzion in June 2014.

Last week the High Court of Justice denied a petition by eight rearrested prisoners to be released. The eight will have to serve out the original life sentences.