JERUSALEM (JTA) — Herzl Shaul, who died waiting for the remains of his son, Oron, to be returned by Hamas, wrote a farewell letter to his son showing that he firmly believed he would return.
The family released the letter on Sunday, more than a week after Herzl Shaul died of intestinal cancer on Sept. 2. He was 54.
Even during his illness, which was diagnosed less than a year ago, Shaul worked tirelessly for the repatriation of Oron’s body, as well as that of Hadar Goldin, who also was taken by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Both soldiers were later declared dead by the Israeli government in consultation with religious and medical authorities.
“My Oron, my son the hero, my brave warrior: since you left, my body has begun to betray me, I won’t lie, my body’s situation could be much better, but unfortunately it is getting worse, every day, just a little more and a little more,” the letter said.
“And in spite of this, I continue to be strong and believe. I cannot give up because I want to arrive at the moment that I’ve imagined since the day you were kidnapped. The moment that the prime minister and the chief of staff of the IDF called me and told me, Herzl, Sergeant Oron Shaul, combat soldier in the Golani brigade from the 13th battalion, will return home this evening from war.
“I imagine how, straight after the phone call, I’d tell Mom, Aviram and Ofek that you are returning to us in just a few hours, albeit injured and weary; a prisoner of war that will expect a long rehabilitation process, but at home! This script has been running through my head every hour, keeping me strong.”
Herzl Oron apologized to his son for not trying to dissuade him from joining the elite Golani combat unit, but said: “Just so you know, even though I didn’t tell you this, in my heart I was full of pride and joy.”
He also praised the citizens of Israel.
“Since your kidnapping, hundreds of thousands of people that we have never met or knew, from the north to the south, everyone reaching out a hand and helping and showing true infinite love, and only because you were sent to war to protect them,” he said.
Shaul used the last of his strength to sign the letter himself, according to The Jerusalem Post.