The parents of the soldier who dashed into a Gaza tunnel after Lt. Hadar Goldin was kidnapped on Friday morning told Channel 2 that they always “raised him to give back to the community.”
Eitan, whose last name is still being kept under wraps by the army, ran into the tunnel in the moments after an attack and kidnapping, to try to retrieve Goldin, who — the army later determined — was killed along with Captain Benaya Sarel and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni.
“Against army regulations, and despite the great danger of the tunnel being booby-trapped, Lt. Eitan went in with his command team. Yesterday, it became clear that he had chased them for hundreds of meters, and not a few dozen, as had been thought at the beginning. During his journey through the tunnel, he and his men found remains that allowed the rabbinate to rule, according to Jewish law, on the death of Lt. Goldin,” Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday.
“We raised all our children with the idea that it’s important to give something back to the community. The whole time Eitan wanted to be in combat, to give back, to give everything that he could; he always wanted to be the best he could be, in his yeshiva and in the army,” Simcha, Eitan’s father, told Channel 2 News Monday.
His parents said the split-second decision may not have been according to army regulations, but that their son had made the right move, given the situation.
“The decision wasn’t a decision; he just saw what he needed to do and he did it,” said his mother, Suzy. “There are procedures, but here we’re not dealing with procedures, it’s just something that was important to do.”
Suzy and Simcha moved to Israel from the United States in 1985; their son Eitan was born in Israel. The family lives in Jerusalem.
His parents said they plan to visit the family of Hadar Goldin, hopefully as soon as possible if the army allows their son a brief break.
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 late Thursday, and they were working on decommissioning it when they were attacked on Friday morning.
Two other soldiers close to him, Sarel and Gidoni, were killed by gunmen, one of whom was initially thought to be a suicide bomber.
Goldin was seized by other gunmen. Eitan and his soldiers who reached the scene tried to chase after the kidnappers into the tunnel, but they were unable to thwart the kidnapping.
However, after an IDF inquiry reviewed some of the items Eitan and his team retrieved from the tunnel immediately after the kidnapping, the IDF determined there was no chance that Goldin could have survived. On Saturday, at around midnight, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the IDF’s Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz, and IDF Manpower chief Orna Barbivai delivered the army’s determination of Goldin’s death to the family.
The funeral for Goldin was held Sunday in Kfar Saba.
Goldin’s parents on Monday praised Lt. Eitan for his bravery. “He risked his life,” said Goldin’s father, also named Simcha. “He knew what was waiting for him [in the tunnel].”