They held a funeral but never buried a body. Now, two years later, Dr. Simcha and Leah Goldin of Kfar Saba, Israel, hope an exhibit of their son’s artwork at the UN will propel member states to apply pressure on Hamas to return their son to them.
On August 1, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in Gaza two hours after a cease-fire went into effect. Flouting traditional rules of warfare, Hamas ran off with Goldin’s body – and has held onto it ever since.
“Hadar is a victim of the cease-fire rather than a victim of the war,” said his mother, Leah. She explained: “The protocol during a cease fire is that soldiers are not allowed to shoot, and Hamas took advantage of that to ambush these soldiers.”
Since the UN, along with the U.S., brokered the cease-fire, Goldin believes it “bears some responsibility” for retrieving her son’s body. “Look,” she said, “the whole world is now concerned about providing humanitarian aid to Gaza and helping them to rebuild. We would be more than happy to have Gaza be like Singapore next to us. What we are trying to do is link this [assistance] to the humanitarian issue of bringing Hadar and Oron [another dead soldier being held by Hamas] to a decent burial in their homeland.”
While in Israel three months ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with the Goldins and promised to “try to help,” said Leah. “We also submitted a letter to him,” she said, “in which we requested that he assign a special envoy to Gaza from the Committee of Missing Persons to assist in bringing Hadar and Oron back to Israel.”
The Goldins, though, are not placing all their eggs in one basket. In addition to lobbying the UN, they have also been challenging Israel’s government to punish Hamas for holding their son’s body hostage.
“Israel provides water and electricity to Gaza residents and even allows the construction of desalination facilities along the Gaza coast. I say to the government: First bring back Hadar and Oron and only after that desalinate the sea water in Gaza,” said Hadar’s father, Simcha, at a press conference last week in Israel.
He continued: “Hamas prisoners in Israel enjoy luxury conditions. First bring back Hadar and Oron and afterward let them enjoy the conditions.”
According to Lea Goldin, “the idea is very simple. During the last 30 years, we have witnessed the tradition that Hamas, Hizbullah, and other terrorist organizations kidnap Israelis and use them as bargaining chips to release their terrorists. Our attitude is that it’s about time to flip the equation – not that terrorists will kidnap soldiers and declare the price, but that Israel will declare the price of Hamas not returning the soldiers.”
The exhibit of Hadar’s artwork – titled “The Final Peace” – will be on display at the UN’s main building until September 23. A larger exhibit, containing some 30-40 items, will be on display at the Conservative Park Avenue Synagogue until January.