On Friday morning, in a blatant and barbaric violation of what was supposed to be a 72-hour cease-fire, Hamas killed Maj. Benaya Sarel, 26, and St.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, was reportedly abducted by Hamas and for over 36 nerve-wracking hours was thought to be alive.
Hadar was an officer in Palsar Givati, an elite reconnaissance unit of the infantry brigade. He spent part of his childhood in the UK and is survived by his parents and three siblings – his twin brother, Tzur; Chemi (Menachem), 32; and Ayelet, 35, all of whom were officers in the IDF.
Tzur, a platoon commander in the paratroopers who was serving in Gaza at the time that his brother fell, spoke of how proud they were to be defending Israel together.
Chemi called Hadar “a beautiful child, a beautiful painter and artist.”
We ached with Hadar’s fiancée, Edna, when she cried out, “I miss you, I’m waiting to dance with you at our wedding.”
His family said he made the decision to get engaged shortly after the abduction of the three teens in Gush Etzion on June 12, 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 captured.
“He went into Gaza to protect the residents of the South,” said Ayelet. “We were all called up.”
Hadar’s father, Dr. Simcha Goldin, a scholar of medieval Jewry at Tel Aviv University who wrote a book on Jewish martyrdom, echoed his wife’s demand that the State of Israel do everything in its power to bring Hadar home.
“I served in the reserves until I was 50 and was a battalion commander, and it’s unthinkable to me that the IDF would abandon one of its fighters. My commander in the Northern Command was [Chief of General Staff] Benny Gantz, and there is no way that he would give the IDF the order to withdraw from any place when a soldier is still there,” Simcha said Saturday night.
It emerged on Sunday that Hadar was related to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
“Hadar Goldin, of blessed memory, is part of my family,” Ya’alon said in his first public comment. “I have known him since he was born. He and the other IDF soldiers who fell fought to restore calm and security to Israel.”
One of the horrific features of war is the human inability to fully grasp the enormity of the loss to the family and friends of the fallen.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 64 soldiers have been killed in action. While those closest to them have been devastated by their deaths, their ultimate sacrifice has merited the attention of the entire nation.
Their heroism in fighting against terrorism has protected us all. Together, we have been overwhelmed by the personal details of every soldier – his achievements and aspirations. We do not – cannot – fully grasp the lost hopes, the dashed dreams, the lives cut off in their prime.
Together, we still feel the anguish of the family of St.- Sgt. Oron Shaul, 22, whom the IDF declared dead on July 25 and whose his body has not been returned to Israel for proper burial.
Together, we stood with the Sarel and Gidoni families as they buried their sons in Hebron and Jerusalem. And together we wept with the Goldin family at his funeral in Kfar Saba on Sunday night.
The Goldin family issued a statement before the funeral saying that “with enormous grief” they had accepted the IDF’s conclusion that Hadar had been killed. They thanked the people of Israel for their support and urged as many people as possible to accompany “Hadar the hero to his final resting place.”
At his graveside, his father made an emotional appeal to the thousands of mourners to live their lives as Hadar had lived his: looking for the best in every person and always smiling.
Hadar Goldin will forever be remembered as a hero of Israel. May his memory be for a blessing.