The IDF officer who had been feared kidnapped but was declared killed in action on Saturday was a distant relative of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, it was revealed on Sunday.
The fact that Lt. Hadar Goldin's great-grandmother was the sister of Ya'alon's grandfather had not been disclosed previously for fear that the information would be used by Hamas.
Ya'alon acknowledged the family connection on Sunday, expressing his sorrow at Goldin's death.
"Hadar Goldin, may his memory be blessed, was a member of my family. I've known him since he was born," the defense minister stated.
"He and the other IDF fighters went into battle in order to return quiet and security to Israel. I embrace the families," he said.
Goldin, who was part of a Givati force that was ambushed Friday by a suicide bomber and other terrorists who emerged from a tunnel in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, was set to be laid to rest at the military cemetery in Kfar Saba at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Hadar, an officer in Palsar Givati, an elite reconnaissance unit of the infantry brigade, got engaged a few months ago to his girlfriend, Edna. His family said he made the decision to get engaged shortly after the kidnapping of the three teens in Gush Etzion, and that they were working on some of the preparations for his wedding when they received the news he was missing in action and feared kidnapped.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.