A ceremony ending the “Hadar Race,” named after fallen IDF officer Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, took place in the Knesset’s Chagall State Hall on Sunday in the presence of Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi), who chairs the Lobby to Bring the Soldiers Home, and members of the Goldin family.
Hadar Goldin’s sister, Ayelet, told the runners, “We miss Hadar every day, but today is his birthday. He is not here, but we have to celebrate for his twin, Tzur. Thank you for holding the race on this day. It is a significant and big embrace for us. I am eight months pregnant with twins, and despite all that we have gone through, I dream of raising them like you – for the sake of our country.”
Lieutenant Goldin was 23 when he was killed in the Gaza Strip, August 1, 2014, while serving in a Givati Brigade commando unit during Operation Protective Edge. His body, and the body of a fellow fallen soldier, Sergeant Oron Shaul, have been held by Hamas to this day, despite countless pleas from parents, the Israeli government, and many countries and international organizations.
The purpose of the race was to intensify public discourse on the government’s obligation to bring Hadar and Oron back. It was organized by the pre-military academy “Hadar – Derech Prat,” which is named after the fallen officer. The academy is located in Kibbutz Sufa, near the Gaza border.
Addressing the teenagers who took part in the race, Speaker Edelstein said, “The circumstances which brought you all here are unfortunate, but it is good to see in the Knesset young people with values who add a different spirit to the nation. You are at the end of a special race for the return of Hadar – and this was his life – a kind of relay race from one good deed to the next.”
“The efforts to retrieve Hadar and the body of [Sergeant] Oron Shaul from Hamas have yet to bear fruit. I hope that we will win in the end, and not only due to the quality of the IDF, but also because of the spirit people like you represent,” Speaker Edelstein stated.
MK Moalem-Refaeli said, “Just as you, the teenagers, are justifiably asking that we not remain silent until Hadar and Oron are returned, I ask of you not to lose faith in the State of Israel … The respect for the State of Israel, its commitment to its citizens, the basic pact with its soldiers – eventually this will lead us all and we will see this long, three-year race end.”
During the ceremony, the cadets presented Speaker Edelstein with a special letter saying, “As teenagers who are about to be recruited into the army, we would like to see the State of Israel do all it can to bring [Hadar] back from captivity. We consider the retrieval of captives to be an essential part of the bond between the citizens and the state, and we expect the Knesset members to view this as a top priority.”