Tags: Israel | leah goldin | simcha goldin | hamas | israeli defense force

Israeli Parents to Trump: Hamas Must Let Us Bury Our Son

Israeli Parents to Trump: Hamas Must Let Us Bury Our Son
Leah and Simcha Goldin hold each other as they mourn the death of their son, Israeli Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, after he was killed on Aug. 1, 2014 in combat in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. (Gali Tibbon/Getty)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 January 2018 03:19 PM

What happened to Israeli professors Leah and Simcha Goldin on Aug. 1, 2014 was almost too much to bear.

The day before, word had spread that there would be a ceasefire in the bloody war with Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, to be implemented under the auspices of the United States and the United Nations.

With two sons serving near the front lines as members of the Israeli Defense Forces, that joyful news lit up their world.

One son, IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin, had been engaged to be married just before the fighting began. An accomplished poet and painter, he and his brother would now be able to resume a normal life.

The day before the armistice began, Hadar called to tell her that he expected to be safely home by Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath that begins on Friday evening and extends into Saturday. It looked like the war was ending.

At that news, Leah Goldin felt a strong urge to drive toward Gaza to embrace her 23-year-old son.

"No Mom," Hadar objected. "You are not allowed."

That would be the last time she ever spoke to him.

The ceasefire began Friday morning as expected. The Goldins, like other parents of Israeli service members who were risking their lives to protect Israel from indiscriminate Hamas rocket fire, were incredibly relieved.

She remembers being in her kitchen, cooking in preparation for the Sabbath, when the alarming news came over the radio: Just 90 minutes into the ceasefire, Hamas operatives had crept through a tunnel and launched an illegal, surprise attack on Israeli soldiers.

"You know, you feel like everything is collapsing," she recalls. "It's something there are no words to express."

Before long a knock came at her door, and she was informed her beloved Hadar had been captured. The IDF would later inform the grief-stricken family that, based on forensic evidence, Hadar could not have survived the attack.

"It was crazy," she recalls, "Nothing can describe it. It's like everything was getting cold inside, you know?

"For 36 hours, he was missing in action. Then on Saturday night, they came in bringing their decision that according to forensic evidence, there is no chance he is alive."

Hamas not only killed their son in a sneak after a ceasefire was declared, but they then dragged his body through the tunnel, back behind enemy lines.

Emboldened no doubt by their 2006 capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive for over five years before he was released in a massive prisoner exchange, Hamas literally took the lifeless body of the Goldins' son hostage — presumably to use as a bargaining chip in future negotiations.

Hadar's body and that of fellow IDF solider Sgt. Oron Shaul have never been returned — a clear violation of humanitarian and international law.

"What we learned since then," says Goldin, head of the software department at the Jerusalem College of Engineering, "is that Hadar was actually a victim of a ceasefire rather than a victim of war."

After the tunnel attack, the ceasefire was quickly restored and the world simply moved on. But the Goldins were frozen in time, unable to bury their son.

"Before you are a Christian," Goldin explains, "before you are Jewish, before you are a Muslim, if you believe in God and your religion, you will know that you have to bury your dead. This is not a question."

The Gaza war launched the Goldins on an international odyssey to focus the civilized world's attention on the fate of their son. Since his death, they have hosted an international exhibit of their son's paintings, launched a charitable foundation in his honor, and confronted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging more be done to bring their son home.

They also met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who "really connected with our case," she says.

That meeting brought the Goldins new hope that someday soon they will be able to bring Hadar back home.

"Hadar was killed in a ceasefire brokered by the previous administration, that didn't do much afterward," she says. "I believe now, the new administration is capable of leading this."

In recent months, the Hamas terrorists who have presided over the collapse of the Gaza economy, and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) that controls the West Bank, have been making fitful moves toward reconciliation. The Goldins are urging that their son's body be handed over as a confidence-building measure during that transition.

The return of their son's return should be a condition of reconciliation, they say. And because the Palestinian cause is so reliant on international aid, they believe the world community that brokered the Gaza ceasefire must accept its moral responsibility for Hadar's fate.

"Since the whole reconciliation effort is happening now," Goldin says. "We believe we now have an opportunity to actually approach the Palestinian Authority, which is now the leader of this reconciliation, and address the possibility of their return, establishing a linkage between all the support they get and their return."

While the Goldins try to avoid politics, they also say they feel renewed hope for their cause now that President Donald Trump is in the White House.

Many blamed Trump's historic announcement that West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel for delaying the reconciliation process, but the Goldins support it nonetheless. Trump's stance, she says, tells the people of Israel "two extremely important things."

"The president honors his word," she tells Newsmax, "and he is willing to correct the mistakes of his predecessors."

She notes the prior administration brokered a ceasefire but failed to enforce it.

"Our tragic situation is a direct result of the mistake of a previous American administration," she says. "We deeply appreciate the many Trump administration officials who are actively engaged in our issue.

"We sincerely hope," she adds, "that President Trump and our friends in America will show the necessary leadership in correcting this historic wrong, and will bring Hadar home."

Then, they will finally be able to bid their son goodbye.

"We feel that enough is enough," she says. "We've waited enough."

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What happened to Israeli professors Leah and Simcha Goldin on Aug. 1, 2014 was almost too much to bear.
leah goldin, simcha goldin, hamas, israeli defense force
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 03:19 PM
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