JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government is making every effort to retrieve the body of Sgt. Oron Shaul for burial, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told the slain soldier’s family.
“It’s obvious to us that Oron’s body is in the hands of Hamas, and we’re making every effort to retrieve it,” Yaalon said Sunday during a meeting with the family, Ynet reported. “Unfortunately we have a lot of experience with cases like this, and unfortunately I’ve encountered it during my military service.”
Efforts to retrieve the body are being undertaken on the diplomatic level during the cease-fire talks, according to reports.
Shaul, 21, of Poriya Illit in northern Israel, was declared killed in action after it was first believed he was kidnapped. An Israeli army committee ruled based on evidence from the field that Shaul was killed in the attack. He was declared a fallen soldier whose burial place is unknown.
Shaul was among seven members of the Givati Brigade who were killed when Hamas bombed their armored personnel carrier early in the ground operation. Hamas is in possession of his military photo ID.
Also Sunday, the Israel-based ZAKA International Rescue and Recovery organization in a letter to Robert Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, asked for permission to enter Gaza to retrieve the remains of Shaul and Hadar Goldin, whose remains also are being held by Hamas.
“As a UN-recognized international humanitarian volunteer organization in recovering human remains of disaster victims, we turn to you, as the UN representative in the Middle East, to help facilitate the return of the soldiers’ body parts,” wrote Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, ZAKA’s chairman and founder.
Israel also has requested assistance from the International Red Cross in its efforts to have the remains returned.