Mother of fallen soldier says PM ‘hasn’t done anything’ to retrieve son’s body

Leah Goldin says she was called to Netanyahu’s office for urgent meeting, only to be told premier wanted to send parents of Hamas captives to UN event which they’d attended before

Leah Goldin in an interview with Channel 12 on July 17, 2019. (Screen capture/Channel12)
Leah Goldin in an interview with Channel 12 on July 17, 2019. (Screen capture/Channel12)

In her first interview since walking out of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in tears, the mother of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body is being held by Hamas in Gaza, said Wednesday that the premier has not done “anything” to bring back her son in the five years since his death.

“For five years you haven’t done anything. You promised us that there wouldn’t be a ceasefire agreement [with Hamas] without the soldiers being returned home. Now you have all of the tools [to do so], so why don’t you do it?” said Leah Goldin, addressing Netanyahu in an interview with Channel 12.

Last month, Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group reached a new ceasefire agreement, which was aimed at halting the launch of balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices from the Strip into southern Israel and reining in the general level of violence along the border, in exchange for a number of economic concessions.

The agreement was tested last week, with the restarting of the launch of arson balloons, the accidental killing of a Hamas operative by Israeli forces and the firing of two rockets from Gaza in response. However, Egyptian intelligence officials were in the coastal enclave last weekend as efforts to solidify the truce have continued.

A composite photo of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, left, and Hadar Goldin, right.

Goldin said that after months of not hearing from the Prime Minister’s Office, she received an urgent phone call on Sunday from a Netanyahu staffer who told her that “something very substantial had come up” and  that the premier wanted to meet with her and her husband as well as with the family of fallen soldier Oron Shaul and of Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed. Goldin and Shaul were seized by Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. Mengistu and al-Sayed both crossed into Gaza of their own accord in 2014 and 2015, respectively, with their families saying they suffer from mental illness.

Goldin recalled how Shaul’s mother Zehava had thought the premier had convened the meeting in order to notify them personally that he had managed to return their sons.

Instead, the parents learned upon their arrival that Netanyahu wanted them to attend an event at the United Nations organized by the US in which they would raise awareness about their families’ plight.

“All of a sudden he wakes up to the idea of sending us to something ceremonial that we already endured two and a half years ago? It’s scandalous,” Goldin said.

She added that there “was no other way to explain” the call other than to connect it to the upcoming September elections and next week’s five year anniversary of her son’s killing and capture. The premiere wanted to be seen as taking the issue of returning the soldiers and civilians seriously, she charged.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an exhibition of paintings by the late Hadar Goldin, killed in battle in Gaza with his body never recovered, at the artists’ village Ein Hod in northern Israel, on August 10, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

After news broke Tuesday that Goldin left the meeting in tears, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying Netanyahu was “continuing to work in every way possible” to return the captives and fallen soldiers’ bodies, and that he had invited the families to his office to discuss a proposal for a new event at the UN.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu understands the pain of the families and will continue to do everything possible to bring the boys home,” the PMO said.

Explaining her decision to leave the meeting before it was over, Goldin told Channel 12, “I couldn’t be there any longer. There’s a limit to how much they can stab a knife into my heart and twist and twist and twist, and in essence turn me into nothing.”

However, she defiantly concluded the interview declaring that her son would be returned. “And the person who will do it will be the prime minister who sent him into war.”

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