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My son Hadar Goldin is the victim of a cease-fire, not a war, and it is time to bring him home.
It has been 1,086 days since I last spoke with my son, Hadar Goldin. A Lieutenant in the IDF’s Givati Brigade, Hadar was serving in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. On August 1, 2014, I was ironing clothes when I heard a knock on the door – a dreaded sound that is the greatest fear of any soldier’s family.
Just 90 minutes into a United Nations and United States mediated cease-fire, Hadar and his unit were ambushed; Hamas terrorists emerged from a hidden tunnel, killing two brave sons of Israel and injuring mine. He was dragged back down the terror tunnel to hell. Hadar’s twin brother, Tzur, was also in Gaza at that time. With that knock on the door, all I could think was “which one?” I would later find out that Tzur’s unit, only 700 metres from where Hadar was kidnapped, was sent to rescue him, a fact I still have trouble comprehending. Several days later we were visited by senior members of the IDF who informed us of their conclusion that Hadar had died in the ambush. For the last three years we have battled to bring Hadar home for burial in his beloved homeland.
As we began our campaign, the biggest question I’ll ever ask became “why was my son kidnapped and killed during what was a US/UN brokered cease-fire?” Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former United States Secretary of State John Kerry realized that the situation in Israel was deteriorating and it was critical that the international community step in to provide for the delivery of medicine, water, and other basic human requirements. As all would expect, the Government of Israel complied with the cease-fire. Hamas did not. Knowing that Israel would not immediately respond to a provocation, Hamas exploited the cease-fire as cover to ambush Israeli soldiers and, just 90 minutes into it, left three dead. While the initial response included international condemnation and calls for Hadar’s return, the international community too soon fell silent.
Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul
It has been 1,085 days since that ominous knock on my door, and still I ask: when can I bury my son? When can my husband, our daughter and sons and I lay him to rest peacefully and religiously in the manner mandated by the Geneva Conventions?
Now, three years later, I look at this through an added lens: why does Hamas get a free pass to continue to disregard international law and norms? Why is the international community silent?
Lieutenant Hadar Goldin
There was a clear defiance of the humanitarian cease-fire intended to help civilians. The abduction and attempt to negotiate over the bodies thus preventing proper religious burial is a continuous violation of the Geneva Conventions and the spirit of the cease-fire.
This is not an “Israeli issue.” This is an international humanitarian issue. We do not want Israel to trade terrorists for our son, which might encourage future kidnappings. We want Hamas to be held to the same international humanitarian standard as the rest of the world.
We are grateful for the members of the Diaspora who have joined our cause and for the support provided by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, by Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, by Senators and Congressmen, and notably by the Honourable Irwin Cotler of Canada. This group is not alone. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has weighed in: “missing persons, regardless of their status – fallen or captured soldiers during fighting, or civilians taken captive by an adverse party – are protected by humanitarian law,” it said. “They and their families must be shown due regard under the law.” Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Israel, said “persons captured alive must be accounted for and treated humanely. Human remains, too, must be handled with dignity, identified and returned to the families concerned...these are among the most widely accepted rules of warfare.”
Widely accepted, it would appear, by everyone but Hamas.
Hadar Goldin (left) with his father, Simcha.
For three years we have been crushed by the world’s deafening silence. After three years of apathy, now is the time for action. We need your help; please sign the petition addressed to UN Secretary General António Guterres at www.bringthemhome.ca. Please join us in saying that we will not accept this. Not on our watch will soldiers’ bodies be held as bargaining chips. Join us in demanding repercussions on Hamas for this egregious action. Join us in demanding that the UN not let this wanton disregard and disrespect of their humanitarian cease-fire go unanswered, setting a precedent that will jeopardize all future cease-fires.
My son Hadar is the victim of a cease-fire, not a war, and it is time to bring him home. Please help us. Go to www.bringthemhome.ca today.