Hundreds of people, including a number of government ministers, turned out Tuesday for a memorial ceremony for Lt. Hadar Goldin, an IDF soldier killed in the 2014 war in Gaza, whose body is still held by the Hamas terror group.
Ministers Ayelet Shaked, Tzachi Hanegbi and Yoav Galant, as well as Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren took part in the memorial at the Kfar Saba military cemetery. Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, a relative of the Goldins, also paid his respects.
“You live among us all the time,” Hadar’s sister Ayelet Kaufman said over her brother’s empty grave.
“You were a lighthouse and now you’re not here, the lighthouse is suddenly missing,” she said. “There’s a huge, inconceivable gulf between the desire to stand with my [surviving] brother at the memorial… just for the family, and the cameras.”
Goldin’s father Simha said that “in the name of the pact between soldiers and their commanders, I remind that the IDF left two bodies in Gaza and in Rafah. In the name of the holy trust between parents and the state’s leaders, I promise you that we’ll bring back Hadar for burial in Israel. We will do this in Hadar’s way, with strength and humility. We won’t rest and we won’t be deterred.”
“The state of Israel left Lt. Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul in Gaza, and the leadership failed in bringing them home,” he said.
Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul are believed to have been killed during the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza, and their bodies are thought to be held by the terror group. The Goldin and Shaul families have joined forces in campaigning for the government to secure the return of their children’s remains.
After a deal was struck in June to restore ties with Turkey which stipulated the easing of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Goldins issued a statement criticizing the government for not requiring the return of the bodies as part of the deal.
Justice Minister Shaked, for her part, said at the memorial that the government’s commitment to bring Hadar Goldin home “didn’t end and we have one mission left — to bring him home together with Oron Shaul.”
She added: “We are working to bring Hadar home as a message to our soldiers and moreover to the whole world. The people of Israel are completely committed to Hadar. We won’t rest until we do what we’re obligated to do.”