Leah Goldin, mother of Hadar, speaks at a press conference, August 5, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Before moving on to any conditions of a peace agreement, the U.S.-led conference in Bahrain focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian peace conflict should demand the return of fallen soldiers and civilians illegally detained by Hamas for years, demanded Leah and Simcha Goldin, the parents of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin, killed in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge.
Goldin was an IDF soldier who was killed on August 1, 2014, during a humanitarian ceasefire, brokered between Israel and Hamas by the United States and the United Nations. Shortly thereafter, rumors spread that a soldier from the Givati Brigade had been attacked and kidnapped, which turned out to be Goldin, whose twin brother Tzur was evacuating wounded Israeli soldiers from Gaza at the time.
"Almost five years ago, our son Hadar Goldin was murdered by Hamas and his remains seized in violation of an internationally sanctioned humanitarian ceasefire. An additional fallen soldier and two innocent civilians are being illegally held in Gaza [at the moment as well]," the Goldin family wrote in a statement.
They fully support the "lofty effort" to create peace between the two states, the statement continued, but they do not concur with agreeing to any conditions without the Hamas-run coastal enclave abiding by international law with regards to deceased victims of wartime efforts.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law obligations states that the remains of the deceased must be treated with respect and honorably interred, thereby presupposing the obligation to repatriate the remains of the deceased," said the Goldin family. They continued by stating that these illegal seizures of human remains make it impossible for the families or the state to bury the deceased according to both Islamic and Jewish burial laws - which follow very strict procedures and normally prompt burial.
"We are appealing directly to you and your nation to help end this international crisis. Earlier this month, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2474: Protection of civilians in armed conflict - Missing persons in armed conflict," the Goldin family wrote in the letter, which was sent to all of the ambassadors who will be present at the conference. "It stated that the return of missing persons can “contribute to the process of confidence building between parties to armed conflict, expediting peace negotiations and settlement, transitional justice processes, reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustaining peace.”
The family hopes that their plea will return their son for burial in his home country and bring their suffering to an end. Bringing the violation of international humanitarian law to an end is of the "utmost importance to the nation of Israel."
In the past, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most cabinet ministers have said regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace that, “We will not sign any agreement for the rehabilitation of Gaza that does not include the return of your sons’ bodies.” Prior to the signature of the “Turkey Agreement,” this was mentioned as a condition for rendering humanitarian aid to Gaza. But upon its signing in June 2016, this was omitted, without explanation.
Urged by the families, the Security Cabinet finally met in January 2017 to discuss methods to pressure Hamas.
In December 2017, the families had to petition the High Court to order the government to implement its own decisions. That month, the United Nations Security Council also held a special session concerning the repatriation of the remains of Goldin and Oron Shaul, the other soldier killed in action and abducted by Hamas. Across the board, the assembled countries agree that Hamas, and now the Palestinian Authority also, are acting outrageously and in violation of international humanitarian law.
In May, a ceremony in memory of Goldin was held at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. The event drew people from across the country to study and sing together in his honor.
“Hadar, in his life, believed in connections between people, and therefore it is exciting for us that people from all walks of life are coming to take part in the spirit of Hadar,” Tzur Goldin said.
Their father, Simcha Goldin, said that bringing people close at such an event would not only remind people of his own son, lost in battle, but of the countless soldiers who serve on the battlefield in defense of the State of Israel.
The event came only a week before the country commemorated the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the three Israeli teenagers on June 12, 2014, which lead to the war.
Gil-Ad Shaer, 16; Naftali Fraenkel, 16; and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were hitchhiking at a West Bank bus stop near the Israeli settlement of Alon Shvut when a Palestinian driver disguised as a Jew stopped and picked them up.
"We implore you, as you join in this historic conference: Please demand an end to our family’s suffering and a longstanding injustice by helping bring our son home," the Goldin family concluded in their statement.
Janine Bloch contributed to this report.
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