The mother of a fallen IDF soldier whose remains are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2014 accused the government of “abandoning” her son and all Israeli troops on Friday.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, government ministers and Knesset lawmakers, Leah Goldin asked why she needed to fight with the state in order to bring her son home.
The message came three and a half years to the day since the defense establishment officially acknowledged her son, Hadar, as a fallen IDF soldier in Hamas captivity.
Goldin also referenced the Wednesday meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians.
She claimed Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman prevented her from attending the conference where she had intended to implore the countries present to withhold aid to the Palestinians until Hadar is returned home.
“The foreign minister and the prime minister did not want us to come to Brussels for a meeting with the donor countries… Our request to return our son spoils the party,” she wrote.
Goldin also placed blame on the Palestinian Authority for holding the bodies of Hadar and a second fallen soldier from the 2014 Gaza war, Oron Shaul.
“We proved this a month ago at a UN Security Council meeting. There was a wall-to-wall consensus that the Palestinian Authority was legally responsible for Hadar and Oron and that it violated international humanitarian law with each moment it did not bring them home,” she wrote.
In a December appearance before the UN Security Council, Goldin argued that unlike Hamas, which is widely considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US government and others, the PA is recognized as the representative of the Palestinians. Therefore, the organization would be “violating international law” if it did not address the issue.
“Anyone who is silent about injustice is a partner to injustice, no matter how big a skullcap or any other head-covering,” said Goldin, in an apparent reference to the religious members of the coalition.
“I did not send Hadar to Gaza. Bibi, Bennett, Liberman, Bogie (former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon) and the entire government sent Hadar and many other soldiers to protect the State of Israel from the rocket fire and terrorist tunnels,” she wrote.
“Everyone is silent and everyone shares responsibility for the injustice of abandoning our soldiers, regardless of the party, race, sex or religion,” Goldin concluded.
On August 1, 2014, the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance unit came under attack in the Gaza city of Rafah from a group of Hamas fighters who had emerged from a nearby tunnel. Three Israeli soldiers, including Goldin, were killed in the exchange and the young lieutenant’s body was smuggled by Hamas fighters into the tunnel.
In an effort to foil what the army feared at the time was the kidnapping of a living soldier, it launched a large-scale assault, killing dozens of Palestinians in what would later become known as “Black Friday.”
In the three and a half years since then, Israel has reportedly been in back-channel talks with Hamas to retrieve the remains of Goldin and another IDF soldier killed in the war, Oron Shaul, along with two living Israeli citizens, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who entered the Palestinian enclave apparently due to mental illness.
Those negotiations have yet to yield results.
The families of Goldin and Shaul have become, at times, vocal critics of the government for its failure to recover their sons’ remains.
On Thursday, Israel officially recognized a new military preparatory program named for Goldin.