Yesterday, the IDF finally listed Golani soldier Sgt. Oron Shaul, aged 20, from Poriya Elite, “missing” after an initial attempt to declare him presumed dead. Sgt. Shaul was in the IDF’s APC, in which the entire squad was killed by a Hamas anti-tank missile early Sunday morning. Six bodies were recovered from the blasted and burnt tank and identified. The seventh, Oron Shaul, was not found or identified.
After an exhaustive probe and tests, the army informed his parents that they had not found his remains, but there was no way Shaul could have possibly survived this devastating attack.
The IDF was anxious to nullify the Hamas claim to have taken the missing soldier prisoner, although no real evidence was offered that he was in their hands, whether alive, dead or wounded. It was important to head off the coming extortions in military or political coin for a name tag, a singed ID card or even a body part.
And indeed, Hamas – once branded “a trafficker in bodies” by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas – announced Tuesday that it would make Israel pay dear for ever scrap of information about the missing soldier.
Another statement issued by Hamas later stressed that its price for information about Sgt. Shaul was separate from its terms for a ceasefire. And still, although the haggling had started, there was no proof that Sgt. Shaul had fallen into enemy hands or was even alilve.
The family of the missing soldier was firmly opposed to the line taken by the IDF. A relative, Racheli Gazit made a statement to reporters, saying: “So long as the family sees no irrefutable proof of the soldier’s death, we refuse to accept it.” She added that while tests continued and no contrary evidence was forthcoming, Sgt. Oron Shaul would be deemed to be living.
This episode is just one instance of the military’s policy of fashioning a picture of events in the Gaza War for public consumption whic may turn out to be contradictory and is often wide of reality.
Another insistence of this was Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s comment Monday that Israel would finish off Hamas’ terror tunnels “in a day or two.” A senior IDF officer said the next day that most of the tunnels had been found, but another “week or two.”
Read more at DEBKA FILE.