After Shabbat I nervously turned on the news and was dismayed to hear that the cabinet was discussing a pullout of troops from Gaza and the drawing to an end of Operation Protective Edge (to be discussed in a later post). “Too early!” we all shouted at the TV. What about the kidnapped soldier?
Indeed, the dignified family of Hadar Goldin appeared on TV after Shabbat and emotionally asked the IDF to remain in Gaza until their son was returned. The war began when three teenagers were kidnapped. How could it end with a soldier kidnapped?
Hadar’s father Dr. Simha Goldin said he “can’t imagine that the IDF will abandon its combat soldier.”
“I am a reserve battalion commander. I did reserve duty until age 50… my personal commander was [IDF chief of staff] Benny Gantz and I know it’s impossible that he would give an order to leave [the Gaza Strip] while there’s a soldier inside…I know Givati Brigade Commander Ofer Winter. I can’t believe he would forsake an officer anywhere.”
“The soldiers we sent…my sons…went out to protect the people of the Gaza periphery,” Simha said. “I can’t believe the people of the Gaza periphery will lend a hand to the abandonment of a soldier in the field, who went out there to protect them.”
A prayer and moral support rally was held by family and friends outside the Goldins’ home hoping for his safe return.
Tragically, the answer that no one wanted came at 2 a.m. Israel time (sometimes it pays to be an insomniac), when the IDF announced that Lt. Hadar Goldin had fallen in battle:
The IDF spokesman announced early on Sunday morning that at 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brigadier Gen. Rafi Peretz, declared the death of IDF officer Lt. Hadar Goldin, who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday.
The decision was made according to the findings of a special board, headed by the rabbi, who consideration medical, halachic and other relevant considerations.
The message was delivered to the family by the Head of Personnel, Major General Orna Barbibay and Peretz.
The Times of Israel has more details (read in chronological order from the link):
The death of Hadar Goldin was established by IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz at 11.25 Saturday night, the IDF spokesman announces.
A family spokesman comes out of the home to announce that the family accepts with deep sorrow that Goldin is dead. He says funeral details will be announced later.
Military sources say that “the findings in the field” were such that it could be established that Goldin was dead, Israel Radio reports.
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz headed a special panel that established Goldin’s death. The decision was made on the basis of findings at the scene of the attack, in the Rafah area on Friday morning, in which two other soldiers were also killed.
Goldin is officially listed as a fallen IDF soldier whose burial spot is unknown.
According to Israel Radio, soldiers had found a Hamas tunnel Thursday night, and were working on decommissioning it before Goldin and two other soldiers were attacked and killed.
They were working in separate groups. Goldin’s group was attacked, and two other soldiers, Benaya Sarel and Liel Gidoni, were killed.
Goldin was seized, and other soldiers who reached the scene tried to chase after the kidnappers, into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the kidnapping.
Goldin is the second soldier so far during Operation Protective Edge to be recognized as killed in action with his burial location unknown, after the army came to the same conclusion with Oron Shaul, killed near the beginning of the operation in Shejaiya.
Unlike with Shaul, though, Hamas claimed to have have no knowledge of Goldin’s whereabouts, saying earlier he had likely been killed along with other fighters during a heavy shelling of Rafah by Israeli forces.
IDF troops had searched for Goldin in the area throughout Friday and Saturday, effectively cutting Rafah off from the rest of the strip. The statement by the IDF will likely allow them to draw down the search.
Reports indicated that some of his personal effects had been found inside a Hamas tunnel.
A senior IDF officer told NRG news that Goldin had been standing right next to Gidoni and Sarel when the blast that killed the went off.
Some of these details leave more questions than answers. If there is to be a funeral announcement, and therefore a funeral, there must be a body. So was Hadar Goldin abducted, alive or probably dead, or was there simply difficulty in identifying his body after the suicide bombing?
My heart goes out to the Goldin family and to Hadar’s fiancee but surely knowing is better than not knowing. Am I allowed to say Baruch Hashem on hearing that his fate has become known? For now, all I can truly say is Baruch Dayan Emet.
May Hashem comfort them amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may they know no more sorrow.