Members of the family of fallen soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed last summer during the war in the Gaza Strip, met on Sunday with President Reuven Rivlin and demanded that Israel act to return Goldin’s remains and the remains of another soldier that are thought to be held by Gaza’s Hamas government.
During the meeting they told the president that the government should insist on the return of the bodies of Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul before entering any discussion about rebuilding the devastated Gaza Strip.
“Any planned action concerning the Gaza Strip must start with the return of the fallen soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul,” Tzur Goldin, Hadar’s twin brother, told the president.
“Our family has confidence in [Israel’s] leaders, but that confidence is not blind. It is an open-eyed confidence with firm foundations,” he continued. “It is not only that Hadar never came home, alive or dead, on the first of August, but that my parents bore their responsibility to the country in mind when their son’s fate was sealed. We insist that the return of the fallen soldiers be a national mission of the highest priority, and not a family’s personal interest.”
Goldin was killed in a surprise attack on August 1, 2014, as a temporary ceasefire during the 7-week conflict was due to begin, and his body was dragged into a tunnel by Gazan fighters.
On July 20, 2014, Shaul was one of seven Israeli soldiers critically wounded when, amid fierce battles in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, his armored personnel carrier, stuck in the middle of a city street, was hit by a Hamas anti-tank rocket. The army was able to recover the remains of only six soldiers but found no trace of Shaul.
Goldin’s family requested the meeting with Rivlin after the president said last week, during a tour in northern Israel, that the reconstruction of Gaza was an Israeli interest.
“In our hearts, we are with the inhabitants of Gaza, who are suffering in neglect because we and the world have not succeeded in reaching a situation in which Gaza is rebuilt,” he had said. “The reconstruction of Gaza is an interest of ours.”
Rivlin also discussed the reconstruction of Gaza during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday.
“We do not need to be pressured,” he said. “The need to rebuild Gaza and the renewal of direct negotiations is very clear to us. The Palestinians’ unilateral actions as we saw for example on Friday in Zurich are unnecessary and a bizarre twist on history — that the successors of those who murdered athletes in Munich should now be promoting a boycott of Israel goes against the ideas of humanity and justice.”