A little over a week after the passing of Herzl Shaul, at the end of the Shiva (a traditional Jewish mourning period, lasting seven days), the Shaul family has published his final letter to his son Oron, who was killed in battle during Operation Protective Edge and whose remains are still held by Gaza-based terror organization Hamas. In the letter, Mr. Shaul expressed his desire to see Oron return home.
When Herzl’s condition deteriorated, the family said, he began writing what was on his mind, describing his thoughts since hearing that his son was in the hands of Hamas. He and a relative attempted to record Mr. Shaul reading the letter out loud, but their two attempts were not successful. A few hours later, Herzl Shaul lost consciousness. His last request was to be given the letter to his son so he could sign it himself.
The letter opens with Mr. Shaul’s description of his condition. “My Oron, my hero son, ever since you left my body has started betraying me, ” it says, “My physical condition is deteriorating every day – a little more, and a little further.”
The letter continues, “I cannot give up, because I want to reach the moment I’ve been imagining since the day you were kidnapped. That moment where the prime minister and IDF chief of staff call me and tell me, ‘Herzl, Sergeant Oron Shaul, a fighter in the Golani Brigade’s 13 Battalion’s support company, is coming home from the war tonight.'”
“I imagine how I tell Mom, Aviram, and Ofek that you are coming back to us in a few hours, injured and exhausted, a captive with a long recovery ahead of him, but home!”
Later on, Mr. Shaul asks his son not to remain angry with government leaders for not bringing him home fast enough. “If you see this recording when you come back, they’ll surely tell you about the hardship we went through before you came back from captivity. The lies and manipulations from all those people we appreciated and admired in the past. But my request to you is that you not have any grudge or anger. Do you know why? Because there’s no people on earth like the people of Israel. Ever since your kidnapping, hundreds of thousands of people have reached their hands out to help.”
At the end of the letter, Herzl shares a memory of his son’s day of enlistment. “Do you remember when you announced that you were enlisting in Golani, your mother begged you to change your mind, since it’s dangerous? Well, just so you know, despite me not telling you this, in my heart I was full of pride and joy. I want to apologize to you, my beloved son, for not listening to Mom.”