Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuAmos Ben Gershom/GPO

Heads of State, Knesset members and public figures on Friday expressed their condolences over the death of Herzl Shaul, father of missing soldier Oron Shaul, whose body is being held by Hamas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara expressed deep sorrow over the tragic passing.

"We received with great sorrow the news of the passing of Herzl Shaul, who suffered from a difficult disease and fought for his life over a prolonged period. In our meetings with Herzl, we saw a strong man who dedicated all of his time and energy to the struggles for his health and for the return of his late son Oron's remains. We grieve for his dedicated wife Zehava, who experienced a terrible tragedy over the loss of her son Oron and must now cope with the great pain of the loss of her beloved husband. We also convey our condolences to their sons Aviram and Ofek, who have experienced terrible loss twice in two years,” they said.

“On behalf of the entire people of Israel, we share in the family's bereavement and assure that we will continue to act in all fields to bring Oron back for a Jewish burial. This effort will not cease until Oron returns home.”

President Rivlin said, "We share in the pain of the Shaul family at the loss of Herzl, the father of the family, who was a tower of strength and determination in the struggle to return Oron home.”

"In our last meeting, I hoped and wished that Herzl would be able to overcome his illness. At this difficult time, Nechama and I send our love and sympathies to Zahava and the children,” he added.

"The State of Israel will continue to do all it can to fulfil the obligation upon it to bring Oron to rest alongside his father Herzl."

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “Herzl Shaul, father of Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, died today after succumbing to cancer. Herzl was a noble, humane and unique man, who together with his wife Zehava built a beautiful home and raised their three children to contribute to the State of Israel.”

“The painful circumstances led to our meeting two years ago, and since then we have had a very warm, close relationship, even during these recent days when the cancer was eating away at him and caused him such torments. Herzl was a special man, who showed his humane side at every meeting and conversation with him. That was the case recently when I visited him in the hospital,” continued Ya’alon.

“The fight against cancer and the longing for Oron were part of Herzl's life and part of the family's life in recent months. But even during the most difficult and painful moments, Herzl revealed mental strength, and was a role model for me, and for anyone who had the privilege to know him. This is a difficult and sad day for the Shaul family, who lost the mainstay of the family two years after the fall of Oron. We will continue to support Zehava, Aviram and Ofek,” said the former Defense Minister.

“The State of Israel will not let up until Oron and Hadar [Goldin] are returned to be buried in Israel. This is its commitment to the sons and their families. This is a commitment to Herzl. It's also my personal commitment. I would like to express my condolences to Zehava, Aviram, Ofek and the rest of the Shaul family. May the memory of Herzl be blessed,” said Ya’alon.

Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog eulogized Herzl Shaul and said, “Great sadness over the passing of Herzl Shaul, father of Operation Protective Edge fighter Oron Shaul. There was so much sadness and pain in his eyes at our last meeting a few weeks ago and along with them, so much strength and confidence in the struggle of this humble family who just wants to see its son again, receive this final grace that we as a country owe them.”

“I promise that I will continue to work with all my strength to fulfill the wish of Herzl. My condolences to dear Zehava and the entire Shaul family,” added Herzog.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot sent his condolences as well and said, "Herzl was the head of a model family. I send a hug to Zeahva and the family in these difficult moments. A week ago I met Herzl for the last time and I promised him that we will continue to do everything to bring Oron and Hadar home, for burial in Israel.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)