Ofek Shaul, the younger brother of the late Oron Shaul – an IDF soldier whose body has been held by Hamas since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge – on Monday enlisted in the IDF. Ofek will serve as a military fitness instructor and will begin a basic training course at the Wingate Institute in Netanya.
“I have mixed feelings right now,” his mother, Zehava Shaul, told Channel 2 News. “I wish him to go in peace and return in peace, and I am waiting for him at home. I hope the army will watch over him.”
Last month, Ofek spoke about his brother for the first time during a press conference organized by the families of the two dead soldiers and two Israelis in Hamas’ hands. “The cabinet members are afraid to make the right decision,” he said at the time, insisting: “The government must insist, the cabinet members should demand that my brother, and Hadar Goldin and Abera Mengistu and Isham Assad be included in any agreement [with Hamas], otherwise the agreement will not be signed.”
“For four years I did not talk to the media because I could not deal with the pain emotionally, and today, too, I sit here in pain, and worse – I’m angry,” Ofek said at the time.
“It cannot be that an agreement is reached with Hamas on certain issues, and at the same time we can’t reach an agreement and exert pressure to return the prisoners and missing soldiers,” he said. “Maybe they’re not trying hard enough.”
“For four years they simply don’t care about us, they don’t count us,” he accused. “They give us the feeling that we are a burden on the state, and why? Because we sent soldiers, including my brother, to defend the country, the citizens, everyone – including members of the cabinet?”
“What are we asking for? Give me back my brother,” Ofek, now an IDF soldier, demanded.