Itongadol.- The father of IDF Sgt. Oron Shaul, who fell in the 2014 Gaza war and whose body has since been held by Hamas, died on Friday afternoon at the age of 54.
Hertzl Shaul and his family have remained in the headlines of Israeli media amid their adamant petitioning for the government to secure the return of their son\’s remains.
Sgt. Oron Shaul went missing during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and has subsequently been confirmed dead by the Israeli government. His body has yet to be returned.
His father, Herzl Shaul, died Friday after a 10-month battle with cancer.
The elder Shaul is survived by his wife, Zehava, and children Aviram and Ofek.
Following news of his death, various government leaders, past and present, paid tribute to Shaul.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara expressed their condolences over Shaul\’s death, vowing that Israel will continue to "act on all fronts" to ensure the return of Oron Shaul and bury him in Israel.
"This effort will not end until Oron returns home," he stressed.
"In our meetings with Herzl we saw a strong man, who devoted all his time and energy toward his health and efforts to return the body of his late son," Netanyahu recalled.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also mourned Shaul\’s death, lauding him for his efforts to retrieve his son\’s body from the hands of terrorists in Gaza.
"Herzl did everything in his power to return his late son Oron, I\’m sorry he did not achieve this before his death," he said.
Liberman added that the government is obligated to return the bodies of Oron Shaul and fellow IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, who also fell in the 2014 war with Hamas.
President Reuven Rivlin also commemorated Shaul\’s strength and determination to retrieve his son\’s remains while fighting his illness.
"The State of Israel will continue to do all it can to fulfill the obligation upon it to bring Oron to rest alongside his father Herzl," Rivlin asserted.
Moshe Ya\’alon, who served as defense minister during the 2014 conflict was among the high-profile figures who expressed sorrow over Shaul\’s death.
He recounted the "very warm, close relationship" he had with Shaul during his tenure as defense minister "even on days when the cancer was eating away at him and caused him agony."
"His fight against cancer and his profound longing for Oron were part of Herzl and his family\’s life in recent months. Although, even in the most difficult and painful moments, Herzl demonstrated mental strength and was a model for me and for all those who had the privilege of knowing him," Ya\’alon warmly stated.