Reuven Rivlin and Avigdor Liberman at a ceremony on memorial day for fallen soldiers.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
“The State of Israel does not forget and will not forget Oron and Hadar,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday during the annual state ceremony at Mount Herzl marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers whose place of burial is unknown.
Rivlin, speaking at the ceremony attended by IDF leadership and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, promised that the “Israeli government will do everything possible to return Hadar and Oron home. Hamas must understand that humanitarian demands cannot be directed only against Israel.”
St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, 20, from Poriya near Tiberius, and Lt.
Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba, were killed in action in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and Hamas has held their bodies hostage since then.
Rivlin said the families of missing soldiers “feel the worst pain of all. It is the pain of doubt, the pain of the unknown.”
“These days, when the State Comptroller’s Report on Operation Protective Edge has shaken us all, we cannot forget for a moment those for whom the battle is not over. Bereaved families.
Soldiers who were wounded physically and mentally, as well as the families whose sons never returned home,” the president said.
On February 22, Goldin’s parents met with in New York US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, requesting her assistance in getting the body of their son and that of Shaul back for burial.
The Goldin family has been critical of the government, saying that it has failed to engage in any serious negotiations to retrieve the bodies of the two soldiers.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister waved a white flag at Hamas and gave up on bringing Hadar and Oron home,” the Goldin family said in early February, adding, “It is our moral duty as a people and the duty of the IDF to return out soldiers from the battlefield.”
At the ceremony, Liberman told the families that the government has “done everything in order to shed light” on the fate of soldiers whose burial place is unknown.
“This is a fundamental moral obligation, first and foremost to you, families of boys who are not with us and to soldiers and IDF commanders whom we send every day on dangerous, life-threatening missions. Dear families, the struggle in whose name your loved ones went to fight is still far from over. In the immediate vicinity and in distant countries, ruthless organizations continue to seek to undermine daily life in our country.
“Even after decades of struggle, we have not lost hope to live in peace with our neighbors,” Liberman said, “but I do not suggest anyone test our resolve to protect the people of Israel.
Those wishing to harm us will find himself facing a determined, strong, ready and united army, who will return a severe blow to any threat, near or far.”
According to the IDF’s Branch for Locating Those Missing in Action, there are 179 soldiers who have been declared dead since the establishment of the state, even though their bodies were not found.
Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers Whose Place of Burial is Unknown is commemorated on the 7th day of the month of Adar, the yahrzeit of Moses, whose place of burial is also unknown.