I was 15 years old when the disengagement from Gaza took place and my family and I were evacuated from our home. Twenty-eight years after the government sent my parents to live in a settlement in the Gaza Strip, a different Israeli government decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza without explaining the reasoning or showing the logical political process it expected would result from such a move.
About eight months before the disengagement was scheduled to take place, when prime minister Ariel Sharon began raising the issue during cabinet meetings, it was clear to all of us that there was zero chance that this plan would be carried out. We believed that these musings were similar to government discussions about withdrawing from Judea, Samaria and the Golan which had made headlines, but never came to fruition.
As a young girl, I remember feeling that as long as we were not given an explanation that makes sense for the disengagement, there was no chance that it would actually take place. I had great faith in our country, in our leadership and in our nation. In my eyes, Israel was a good, just and high-quality society. I thought that our country would remain faithful to the values it espoused. In the end, this fateful decision was made without even holding discussions with the security cabinet or the IDF.
I admit, I was a naïve child at the time. But even after the law passed, and we had packed up all the contents of our home into boxes, and even in the days after we’d moved into the guest house at Kibbutz Hafetz Haim after being evacuated, I was still waiting.
At the time, I didn’t know how to verbalize what I was waiting for.
Today, 11 years later, I’ve come to realize that I was waiting for the Israeli people to rise up and scream out. Not just the Right, but the entire Israeli people as a nation. Everyone who thought this was a fatefully wrong decision for the State of Israel.
I also expected to hear from people who thought that this was a good decision, that it was the right thing to do, but who understood that there are people here who will have to pay a heavy price for this political decision. I was waiting to hear someone scream, which would have made the Israeli people stop and think for a minute about all the mistakes we’d made in the past, all the undemocratic decisions that had been made, and the poor way the evacuees were being treated.
The period following the disengagement was not an easy time for me or for any of the other deportees. We felt heartbroken, began to lose our faith in the state and felt betrayed. From a young age, we’d been brought up with values that included loving the Land of Israel. A sense of mission had been ingrained in us since we were very little.
But now the message we were hearing made us feel like maybe we’d been sacrificing so much for a country that didn’t really care about us.
Nine years after the disengagement, I personally paid another price:
During Operation Protective Edge, Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was supposed to stand under the huppa
with me one month later, was killed in action.
Hadar was killed during a cease-fire and his body was captured by Hamas. For 48 hours, Hadar was considered kidnapped.
Then a military delegation came to us, including the chief military rabbi and the head of the Personnel Directorate. They sat down with us in a room and began going over all the information they had. They then told us that they had decided to consider Hadar as a casualty, and that this was a critical military decision since it had great moral ramifications for the war against Hamas by preventing it from capturing other soldiers and using them for ransom. It was an incredibly difficult situation, but Hadar’s family accepted this decision after they’d received a commitment from the authorities that Israel would not rest until Hadar had been brought home to be buried.
We are now commemorating Hadar’s second yahrzeit. During his life, Hadar was a symbol of heroism, and he left us with the mission to bring back the feeling of national pride in our country, to make Israel the great country it was meant to be, and to be even stronger in our struggle against our enemies. For almost two years now, the Goldin family has been talking about altering the balance, about the values upon which Israel was created, which our soldiers go out to war to defend, such as supporting the national collective and realizing that if Israel ever lost a war, we’d be left without a home.
What we’re demanding is that the State of Israel not give in to Hamas and agree to pay a heavy price, for this will just encourage it to kidnap more and more soldiers. What we are asking is that Israel stand strong against this threat, and be the one to decide how much Hamas needs to pay us for kidnapping our soldiers.
The State of Israel was put to a test when it was considering signing a reconciliation agreement with the Turkish government. Unfortunately, the Israeli leadership failed this test when it showed absolute disregard for basic democratic procedures.
The Israeli government will face another test when it is expected to sign a similar agreement with Egypt. These are indisputably important agreements for the State of Israel, but if the prime minister rejects attempts to use these agreements to bring back our captured soldiers who went out to fight for their country and who are being held in the Gaza Strip, under the pretext that this absolves these countries all responsibility and from their connections with terrorist organizations and the Gaza Strip, then I believe we’ve returned to the same point we were at 11 years ago – pretending to espouse values. Only here the deceit, indifference and lack of caring will not affect a small group of 8,000 people, but every single IDF soldier, past, present and future, who goes out to war to restore our national pride.
If Israel puts aside the values we were raised with, and with which we are raising our children, if the government fails to fulfill its commitment to bring back the soldiers it sent to the battlefield, then we have a serious moral problem on our hands. And so, we the people who live here, who are fighting here for peace, are obliged to stand up and raise our voices. If we leave the task of bringing our boys home in the hands of only two families, then we have definitely lost in the war in defense of our values.
The writer was the fiancée of Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.