Goldin parents sail toward Gaza in effort to bring son’s body home

Leah and Simcha Goldin marked four years since their son Hadar was killed and his body snatched by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge by setting sail toward Gaza, in an effort to pressure the government to do more to bring his body home.

The boat, which departed from Ashdod, was also boarded by Knesset members from across the political spectrum, as well as by representatives from Im Tirtzu, Bnei Akiva, and the Tzohar rabbinical organization.

Be the first to know –

MKs Sharren Haskel (Likud), Moti Yogev and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi), Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) and Dan Saida (Shas) joined the maritime voyage and spoke out in support of the Goldins.

Leah Goldin accused the Israeli government of failing to bring her son’s body home. “We feel that the Israeli government is not doing enough, and is not working towards bringing back Hadar from Gaza, from Hamas,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Monday morning.

The government must “bring back… the two soldiers who went on Operation Protective Edge to defend Israel against Hamas,” she said, referring to her son and another soldier, Oron Shaul, who was also killed in action and whose body is also being held by Hamas.

“They’re only an hour – one hour – away from Tel Aviv. It’s not acceptable,” she added.

In recent months, calling on the government to condition any proposals to Hamas for humanitarian relief for Gaza on the humanitarian step of returning the bodies of the two soldiers and releasing the two Israeli civilians being in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed.

Some 4,000 Israelis turned out for a peaceful kite-flying demonstration on Friday near the Gaza Strip to demand the return of the bodies of the soldiers, their peaceful protest held in marked contrast to the incendiary kites and fire balloons launched at Israel from Gaza over the last few months.

“Our slogan since Passover has been ‘humanitarian [steps] for humanitarian [steps],” Goldin stressed, describing her son’s case as the violation of “the most humanitarian [rights] – violating a ceasefire, capturing helpless people, preventing burial.” Her son was killed during a Hamas attack that followed a UN-brokered humanitarian cease-fire.

Moalem-Refaeli declared the boat trip “a clear statement that any aid program for Gaza must begin with the return of the boys – the soldiers, and the civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed.”

Haskel told the Goldins, “This is a daily reality that you’ve been experiencing for four years. Not a night goes by without it being hard to fall asleep. Where are your children? Where are their bodies, if there are any?”

“Hamas is a cruel enemy, without a drop of mercy. Therefore, we cannot treat them with mercy. There can be no arrangement, no peace deal, no agreement until the government demands the return of all the boys,” she said.

Im Tirtzu head Matan Peleg also spoke to the crowd, saying: “When you have an enemy, you need to wring out all its energy to destroy you. Once it raises a white flag, then you can discuss things. Before then, there’s no point. The perspective that we offer incentives to our enemy was proven wrong by [the] Oslo [Accords].”

As the boat arrived in Ashkelon, Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, drew attendees’ attention to the fact that the government regularly releases terrorists ahead of time. “Operation Protective Edge started with the arrest of 50 Hamas members – 11 of those have already been released, some of whom were due to serve life sentences. Those who claim that the Goldin family is trying to release terrorists [should pay attention] – the government’s already doing that,” he said.

“It’s a tough month for us, a tough week. Four years since Operation Protective Edge,” Goldin noted. “Bereaved parents [who lost loved ones during the war] have told the prime minister that the war isn’t over for them, as long as two fallen soldiers from Protective Edge, Lt. Hadar Goldin of the Givati brigade and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul from Golani, remain in Gaza.

“This boat journey is supported by many, many parties from all over the political spectrum in order to express our demand that the boys be returned home.”