Though in the hours after his death he was ruled missing, his fate unknown and his whereabouts a mystery, on Sunday afternoon in Kfar Saba, Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, of the Givati Brigade was brought to his resting place surrounded by thousands of Israelis, in a funeral befitting a beloved officer.
The officer from Givati’s reconnaissance unit was spoken of in a way that bore a contrast of sorts — a brother, son, and fiancee who was constantly smiling and a fighter who fought with ferocity and bravery when sent to war.
His father, Simcha Goldin, said it was hard in a way to mourn a guy like Hadar, who was always smiling, a beaming smile that all of Israel came to know from the endless news reports since he went missing in a firefight in southern Gaza where he was killed along with two other soldiers Friday morning.
Hadar, his father said, always wanted to bring betterness (tikkun) to the world, and that he “was a great young man, just like all the other ones we [Israel] have buried recently.”
Hadar’s twin brother Tzur talked about how their lives were and remain intertwined and that “the happiness in our house won’t be extinguished, your dreams came true in your life, and they will continue to come true after your death.”
In the next few months Hadar was set to marry to his fiancee Edna, and his family was working on wedding preparations when they received the news Friday that he was missing in action.
Embraced by Hadar’s mother Hedva, Edna said she didn’t know where to start, what to say about a man she was so proud to know, to be a part of, an officer admired by his soldiers, a loving son and brother beloved by his family.
She talked about how much everyone will miss him, and that things wont be the same without him, but that “if you want us to live we will, and give us the strength to make you happy.”
She also vowed that he will live on as a part of her life and that “everyone I meet will know you, you will walk with me hand in hand.”
Goldin had been listed as missing in action and feared kidnapped since Friday, but late Saturday night Chief IDF Rabbi Brigadier General Rafi Peretz ruled that Goldin had been killed in action, due to findings from the scene and halachic rulings, the IDF said Sunday.
They gave no further details about how the decision was made to rule him dead and fit for burial.
On Sunday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon broke the media silence on a rumor that had been circulating Israel when he tweeted that Goldin is a relative of his and he has known him since he was born. He did not give further details on the family connection between the two, which was censored for publication until Goldin was ruled dead.
On Saturday night, Goldin’s family told reporters gathered outside their Kfar Saba home that they are fiercely opposed to any IDF withdrawal from Gaza that does not include the return of their son. They also expressed confidence that he was still alive.
The next morning, after there was no longer any way to deny the tragedy, Goldin’s father called for Israelis to attend the funeral, to give his son a fitting send-off. The call was heeded by what looked like more that 10,000 people, spanning across the cemetery and the surrounding streets. The funeral was one of many recent soldier funerals that have become mass events, as strangers flocked in the thousands to bid farewell to young men they didn’t know. It is a spectacle that was not widely seen in previous wars.
One of those who came was Arik Kasten, 49, from Moshav Beit Hanan near Ness Ziona, himself the father of a Golani soldier sent in a supporting role to the front line.
He said he’d been to the funeral for another soldier he didn’t know, one that was held earlier in the operation in Rehovot, and that like other well-wishers, he felt a duty to come.
“I feel I owe him, he gave his life for me, all I gave was two hours of my time.”
via The Jerusalem Post