your master's sons,...when the letter came to them, that they took
the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in
baskets—2 Kings Chapter 10
On August 2, 2014, Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was declared dead by the IDF in an unprecedented fashion. The day before, the IDF claimed that it had been captured alive by Hamas. Hebrew media disclosed personal details that hint that Goldin was target killed. +
Everybody was Deceitful
From the beginning the event caught my attention; something did not fit in the story. The reports of IDF and Hamas were very different; they did not even agree on the time of the event. I made an initial analysis in Hamas Captured IDF Officer.
Let me repeat only the key events. Goldin was standing near the entrance of a tunnel in Rafah, a city in Gaza just next to the Egyptian border together with two of his soldiers. Apparently they were planning an attack on the tunnel after the ceasefire ends.
A Hamas commando unit appeared from underground. One of its soldiers approached the IDF ones and detonated himself. The three died. The other Hamas soldiers captured the shocked officer.
This is more or less agreed by both sides.
During the following night, an emergency meeting of Israel's National Security Cabinet decided on unilateral withdrawal. While the IDF retreated under fire, fifty Palestinians were killed by it.
In Kfar Saba, people gathered in front of Goldin's house.
Hamas kept saying that it did not hold the soldier, also after a period of time allowing its transfer to a safe location.
Both versions could not be accurate. Information was hidden by both sides. Oddly, the Military Rabbinate was operational in disclosing the dreadful secret.
Family in Panic
On Saturday, before the death was announced, Goldin's family panicked. In a press conference, his mother said "I demand from the State not to leave Gaza before it returns my son."
Israelis will frown at the idea of the IDF leaving behind a soldier or its body in the battlefield. It is unthinkable. The family was not ignorant of the IDF ways. His father was a battalion commander with the rank of lieutenant colonel who had served under the current Chief of Staff Gantz.
Oddity increased when Hamas added details, saying "We lost contact with one of our forces in the area where the soldier disappeared. They may have been hit in a battle. We assume that if they managed to capture the soldier, they were killed."
On Saturday evening, after the Jewish Shabat ended, the family was visited by Orna Barbivai, Head of the Manpower Directorate, $ and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon.
Those standing outside started singing "Am Israel Hai," "People of Israel are alive." They knew that the officials have come to announce the death of Hadar Goldin and were invoking their most nationalistic anthem. They were correct, but they could not guess the full horror of what was not said.
The parents of the three hitchhiking settlers killed in the previous month, event that had triggered the Operation Strong Cliff,* visited the Goldin residence after the Minister left. A human tragedy was being hidden by the opaque walls of the house.
Shortly afterwards, details were released. The dead soldier and the Minister of Defense were relatives.
Understanding the events demands knowing IDF practices regarding its dead soldiers. The Military Rabbinate must declare the soldier dead before subsequent steps are taken.
Even after the IDF knew that Goldin was dead it could not publish that before Brigadier General Rafi Peretz, the Chief Military Rabbi, declared him dead.
He has done so only after an exceptional Court was created and summoned to deal with the issue. Shortly afterwards, an unusual statement was delivered by the IDF Spokesman: "The Chief Military Rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, who chaired the Special Court created for this case, have reached the decision [to declare Goldin dead] according to findings brought from the battlefield and while taking into account medical considerations, Halakha [Jewish Law] and other relevant issues."
Only then it was made public that the grandfather of Minister Ya'alon and the father of the Goldin's grandfather were brothers; a bit remote, but not exceedingly so.
In the past, Goldin had invited Ya'alon to speak in his high-school. The picture shows the Minister speaking there. They couldcontact each other comfortably; this is quite close.
The relations had been kept secret allegedly for fear of Hamas finding it out. Had an official source mentioned it would have equaled to admitting that the soldier was dead before the formal recognition of the event.
This elucidated the horror. The other two soldiers killed in the event, one of them a major, had been buried normally.
Goldin's remains were so scarce that a DNA test was needed. That was the reason for a special religious court being created. Goldin had not been killed by the Hamas Soldier that detonated a charge next to the other two IDF soldiers.
Hamas had achieved a major prize. In Hamas Captured IDF Officer I had assumed that Goldin was part of the Signal Company of the Givati Brigade due to his technical studies. I was very close, he was part of another special company of the brigade. He was a platoon commander at the Brigade's Commando unit.
Hamas had captured a commando officer that was a relative of the Israeli Minister of Defense.
The scene of the battle was patrolled by an IDF drone. Nowadays, this is regular practice. The bunker monitoring the event saw Goldin being taken captive and reported backward and upwards in the chain of command. To their horror they got a short message "Fire a missile." Just following orders, they complied. Goldin and his captors were pulverized.
Minister Ya'alon, not even Joseph Stalin in his bestial purges can claim to have matched such an achievement. Can I ask you to show similar mercy on me?