“We don’t hear any voice. Only silence, a terrible silence,” Leah Goldin, the mother of missing soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin told The Jerusalem Post ahead of a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.
On Tuesday, the Goldin family skipped the official memorial service for soldiers killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in the war and their remains have since been held by Hamas. Goldin was killed on August 1, two hours after the terror group agreed to a cease-fire when terrorists ambushed him and two other soldiers from a tunnel located in a house in Gaza.
The two soldiers were killed, and Goldin was dragged into a tunnel in the Hamas-run coastal enclave. The IDF declared him killed in action.
“It’s very upsetting that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu never used the word ‘humanitarian’ in Hadar’s case,” Goldin told the Post
by phone. “These are two soldiers who were sent to war and it’s the government’s responsibility to bring all soldiers home.
“We keep saying that we are different families with a shared destiny,” she said of the Shaul family, whose son Oron was killed on the second day of the ground offensive when his armed personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile in the Gaza City neighborhood of Saja’iyya.
While the bodies of the six other soldiers were recovered, Shaul’s body was snatched by Hamas. The army declared him a fallen soldier whose place of burial was unknown, a definition the family refuses to accept.
“Every family has a soldier in it, it’s not a private issue but a national issue that is no less a priority than Iran,” Goldin said.
“Bringing back our soldiers is a national issue that should be a priority.”
Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, told public broadcaster KAN that the family would not attend the official ceremony “because we simply can not continue to behave as if everything is in order, while the government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, does not take responsibility and simply evades it.
“The Goldin family can not come and take part in the state memorial when the prime minister does not keep his promises to us to return Hadar,” she said.
In late June, Goldin, along with Hadar’s twin brother, Tzur, and former Canadian justice minister and attorney-general Irwin Cotler, who represents the family on issues of international law, met with the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee for a special discussion titled “The Humanitarian Rights of Hadar Goldin.”
“Our family came here to ask you to be on the right side of history, to enforce humanitarianism against those who deny and ignore it,” Goldin said at the meeting. “We came here to tell you that we are all children of God and we all seek peace – if not during life, at least in death. I ask you that when you discuss Gaza, Hadar’s humanitarian rights will be on the table and part of any agreement, and it would be fair to include the return of Hadar as a condition for all humanitarian aid to Gaza.”
She said the European Parliament initiated the meeting where representatives of Romania, Hungary and the Netherlands demanded that all humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip be conditioned on the return of the missing soldiers.
At the meeting Cotler explained that the EU was not only failing to comply with its own laws but so was the Palestinian Authority, which joined the ICC in 2014 representing all Palestinians, including those in Gaza.
At the end of the discussion, a resolution was adopted that Hamas and the PA are violating international humanitarian law by holding Hadar’s body captive and that the EU must act to achieve a solution where the bodies and civilians are returned.
Hamas is also believed to be holding two other Israeli citizens – Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who both suffer from psychiatric disorders and voluntarily crossed into the Strip.
Mengistu and Sayed have been missing for three years and their cases are viewed by Israel as a humanitarian issue unrelated to the cases of Goldin and Shaul, but Israel has made it clear that it holds the group responsible for the safety of both.
The terrorist organization has attempted to use all four as bargaining chips in negotiations for prisoner releases.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said last month that the return of the bodies of the two soldiers and two citizens would ensure humanitarian and economic aid for all residents of Gaza, but for Goldin, words are not enough.
“I still remember when Liberman said he would kill Haniyeh within 48 hours if we didn’t get the bodies back... well... We look for action, not for words,” she said.
“As the Goldins, we are doing the work of the Israeli state, what we did in Brussels was a paradigm shift,” she said, adding that while the Israeli public supports the families, “the Israeli government is stuck in an old paradigm of excuses.”
“We want to help Gaza... to rebuild it. We would be very happy if they become like Singapore but first they have to comply with international humanitarian law. To give Hadar and Oron basic human dignity, a funeral.”
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