Fears that Lieutenant Hadar Goldin of the Israeli Defense Forces had been captured by Hamas ended what would have been a 72-hour ceasefire between the terror organization and Israel. Over the weekend, however, Goldin was declared dead, and thousands of Israelis congregated to honor his life and sacrifice.
Goldin went missing the night of the ceasefire in an operation which uncovered yet another massive tunnel developed by Hamas to transport and secure weaponry. Several versions from unnamed sources, all of which align with each other, appear in Israeli publications and tell of the immediate aftermath of Goldin’s disappearance.
Israel’s i24 News reports that Goldin and two other officers, company Commander Maj. Benaya Sarel and his communications officer, Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, had uncovered a tunnel shaft and were beginning to investigate when a Hamas terrorist engaged them, opening fire on the three soldiers. According to i24, “As they proceed along to a greenhouse, a blast killed Sarel and Gidoni.” The blast also killed the Hamas terrorist opening fire, but Goldin was nowhere to be found.
The soldiers reasonably assumed that Goldin had been taken hostage, and they chose to enter the tunnel and proceed to search for Goldin, rather than wait for reinforcements. There, they found some of Goldin’s personal belongings and evidence that led to the IDF’s official declaration that Goldin had not been kidnapped, but had been killed.
The Israeli liberal publication Ha’aretz adds some details: A source reports that the Hamas terrorist found dead was wearing an IDF uniform. They also note that, though the soldier who continued to search after finding the three initial bodies “violated protocol” in doing so, the mission uncovered a yet-undiscovered Hamas tunnel, which led from a Hamas outpost to a mosque. It also featured corridors in other directions that appeared to be blocked.
The official IDF announcement of Goldin’s death did not detail how the military ruled his disappearance a death using only personal belongings found on site, but both the Israeli government and Goldin’s family accepted the announcement. Goldin’s family organized his funeral on Friday–a somber event attended by thousands of grateful Israelis, who came to hear Goldin’s father, Simcha Goldin, and his fiancé, Edna, speak of their loss:
Edna, The Jerusalem Post reports, spoke of the duty she felt to let her 23-year-old fiancé continue living through her. “If you want us to live, we will, and give us the strength to make you happy,” she said, adding, “Everyone I meet will know you; you will walk with me hand in hand.”