Tens of thousands of people paid their last respects to Lt. Hadar Goldin in Kfar Saba, and thousands more said farewell to other soldiers killed late last week in a series of funerals around the country Sunday.
Givati Brigade officer Goldin, 23, was laid to rest in the local cemetery of Kfar Saba, the town where he and his family lived. The officer was killed, along with two others, in a Hamas attack on IDF troops last Friday during a period when a ceasefire agreement was supposed to be in effect.
In the hours after the attack, the IDF believed he may have been kidnapped, driving intense public interest regarding his fate. However, on Saturday night the IDF told his family that Goldin was declared dead.
“I didn’t expect you to leave me so quickly,” Goldin’s fiancee Edna Sarusi said at the funeral, her voice choked with emotion. “I relied only on you. I don’t know what to do.”
“I though we would be together forever,” she said. “I love you so much, and I miss you so much.”
Sarusi spoke of how proud she was to see the attention that Goldin gave his soldiers when she visited him in the past in the army.
She recalled how easygoing he was when it came to making their wedding arrangements and that he would often say, “All I want Edna, is that you be a bride.”
“I so wanted to be your bride, Hadar,” she said.
Though Goldin’s body is still in Gaza, officially recognized as buried in an unknown location, the family went ahead with a Sunday burial.
Goldin’s father Simcha asked the mourners at his son’s funeral in Kfar Saba to live their lives as Hadar lived his — looking for the best in every person, interacting with others with a smile on his face.
Goldin recalled his son worked to repair the world, by setting an example for proper interactions between people. His son never cursed, he said, and spoke to others gently and directly.
“Let’s not defile ourselves with conflicts,” Goldin said, pausing occasionally as his sorrow overtook him.
Hadar was a painter and an avid reader in school, his father said, and noted that after joining the army, Hadar asked his mother to teach him to sew, and he sewed the words “strength” and “humility” into his gunstrap.
“We were two that lived together and will never be divided,” said Goldin’s twin brother. “Your life is mine and mine is yours.”
“You were a true Israeli, greatest of them all,” he said. “Hadar, we miss you, and things will not be the same without you.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who is a relative of the Goldin family, attended the funeral in Kfar Saba along with former IDF commander Gabi Ashkenazi.
Major Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba, who was killed in the same attack, was buried overnight in the old Jewish cemetery of Hebron and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem was laid to rest in the capital on Sunday.
“I have no way of trying to explain my pain,” Sarel’s fiance Gili told thousands of people gathered at the late-night funeral. “The night before you died, we had a long conversation, an optimistic conversation, we laughed. You said tomorrow would be a ceasefire and you would be able to call again.”
Several hundred people attended the funeral of Captain Omri Tal, 22, an Armored Corps combat officer from Yehud, where he was buried in the town’s cemetery.
As the funeral started an explosion from an Iron Dome rocket intercept could be heard in the background, although there were no sirens sounded in the Yehud area itself, Ynet reported.
Tal was killed in a mortar attack last Thursday that took the lives of five IDF soldiers who were inside Israeli territory near the Nahal Oz kibbutz close to the border with Gaza.
Hundreds more took part in the funeral of Captain Liran Adir (Edry), 31, of Azuz, who was also killed in the mortar attack.
Since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8 there have been 64 IDF soldiers killed in combat as Israel tries to stem rocket fire from Gaza and destroy a network of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border and into Israeli territory for the purpose of launching terror attacks. Terrorists emerging from the tunnels have ambushed IDF patrols, killing 11 soldiers.