In Israel, a small country where nearly everyone knows someone who has served in the army — and nearly everyone has attended at least one military funeral because of it — political leadership is no guarantee against grief, not even for the defense minister.
Moshe ‘Boogie’ Ya’alon, once this country’s IDF Chief of Staff and who now serves as Minister of Defense, is a relative of the young man whose remains are to be laid to rest later today. Ya’alon personally came together with IDF officials on Saturday night to deliver the news to the family that his young kinsman was dead. It couldn’t have been easy.
A special committee led by IDF Chief Military Rabbi Rafi Peretz had declared the death of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. The determination was made after reviewing all relevant medical information, circumstantial evidence and halachic (Jewish legal) criteria.
The relationship between Ya’alon and Goldin was not previously publicized due to concerns the information would be used by Hamas terrorists to further harm the young officer, assuming he was alive.
Ya’alon’s grandfather was Goldin’s great-grandmother’s brother.
“Hadar Goldin, may his memory be blessed, was a member of my family,” Ya’alon told media on Sunday. “I’ve known him since he was born. He and the other IDF fighters went into battle in order to return quiet and security to Israel. I embrace their families,” he said sorrowfully.
Goldin was an officer in Palsar Givati, an elite reconnaissance unit of the Givati infantry brigade. His unit was attacked by Hamas terrorists Friday, August 1 about an hour and a half after the start of a humanitarian cease fire forced on Israel by the United States and the United Nations. The Israeli soldiers were ambushed in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah when a suicide bomber emerged from a tunnel and detonated himself near their unit, killing two of their men, both laid to rest earlier this weekend.
Other terrorists from the cell who quickly followed then grabbed Goldin and dragged him back into the tunnel. The men in his unit chased the terrorists but were unable to catch them; about 150 meters down the shaft, they found some of Goldin’s belongings.
Realizing they had to stop the cell from taking Goldin any farther, the elite unit began firing at targets in the surrounding area and took measures to effectively address the multiple entrances to the tunnel used by the terrorists as well.
Goldin and his girlfriend Edna became engaged just a few weeks ago, after the kidnapping and murder by Hamas terrorists of the three Israeli teens in Gush Etzion. The families of the young couple were working on their wedding preparations when they received the news the Givati officer was missing in action.
The family of Hadar Goldin has asked the Israeli public to join them in accompanying their son to his final resting place Sunday afternoon at the military plot in the Kfar Saba cemetery, at 4:30 pm local time.