Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was pronounced dead by the IDF overnight Saturday-Sunday, was a second cousin once removed to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
“Lt. Hadar Goldin was my relative,” Ya’alon said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “I’ve known him since he was born.”
Ya’alon’s grandfather and Goldin’s great-grandmother were siblings. The defense minister, along with the IDF chief rabbi and other officials, arrived at the Goldin’s Kfar Saba home Saturday night to deliver the bitter news.
The family said it received the news with deep sorrow. Goldin is officially listed as a fallen IDF soldier.
The military said in a statement that “findings in the field” were such that it could be established that Goldin was dead. Peretz headed a special panel that confirmed Goldin’s death late Saturday night.
According to Israel Radio, Goldin, an officer in the Givati Brigade, was part of a group of soldiers who had found a Hamas tunnel in a rural area near Rafah overnight Thursday-Friday, and they were working on decommissioning it when they were attacked on Friday morning.
Goldin’s group was targeted, and two other soldiers close to him, Benaya Sarel and Liel Gidoni, were killed in an explosion, apparently detonated by a Hamas suicide bomber.
Goldin was seized by other gunmen, and other soldiers who reached the scene tried to chase after the kidnappers, into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the kidnapping.
IDF troops had been searching throughout Friday and Saturday for Goldin in the Rafah area.
Hamas denied it had any information on a kidnapped soldier.
Earlier on Saturday night, hours before the family heard the news, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was evasive about the case, saying that he empathized with the Goldin family, and that “the State of Israel will continue to do its utmost to bring home its MIAs.”
IDF sources had stressed earlier on Saturday, discouragingly, that Goldin was very near to the other two soldiers who were killed — Major Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba, and 1st.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem.
Goldin, 23, one of four children, was raised for part of his childhood in England while his parents taught at Cambridge University. He got engaged just weeks before Operation Protective Edge sent him to the Gaza Strip.