Israel in tears over soldier who was abducted - then wasn't

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 7, 2014
Hadar Goldin, killed on Friday

Hadar Goldin, killed on Friday

For long hours on Friday, the IDF believed Hamas may have succeeded in capturing Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and spiriting him away through a tunnel to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

In an attempt to prevent his capture, the IDF activated the Hannibal Directive - a planned response to a possible kidnap - and launched a massive bombardment of the area, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed.

It took over 24 hours for the IDF to recover sufficient forensic evidence that proved Lt Goldin had been killed in the initial Hamas attack.

The incident took place after 9am on Friday morning, over an hour after a UN-brokered ceasefire - which was supposed to last for at least 72 hours - had gone into effect. Hamas fighters ambushed a group of soldiers from the Reconnaissance Company of the Givati Brigade near Rafah. The company commander, Major Benaya Sarel, and First Sergeant Liel Gideoni, were killed in the attack. Lt. Goldin, who was also fatally wounded, was taken from the battlefield into a nearby Hamas tunnel. A group of Givati chased after them into the tunnel and managed to retrieve some of Lt. Goldin's personal effects.

Goldin: UK links

A friend of the Goldin family, based in Britain, said that Hadar and his twin brother had lived in Cambridge twice. Their father, Dr Simha Goldin, is an academic specialising in Jewish studies, and had spent time on sabbatical at Cambridge University.
The family were active in Cambridge's Jewish community, taking roles in synagogue services there. Barry Landy, of the Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation, confirmed the family had lived in the city twice. "Hadar was a nice boy. The first time they came he was 12, the second time he was 15; on the second occasion he did his barmitzvah here," Mr Landy said.

The Hannibal Directive was then put into action. The directive, first drafted in 1986, orders IDF soldiers to fire at a vehicle in which a soldier may be held to prevent it getting away, even if this endangers the soldier's life.

In this case, the directive was interpreted to the maximum and huge barrages of fire were directed at potential escape routes and hiding places around Rafah. Palestinian sources initially reported that around 40 civilians had been killed, later putting out figures as high as 130 dead. The IDF is investigating these claims.

The Hamas attack brought the ceasefire to an abrupt end. Hamas sources including their deputy political chief, Mussa Abu Marzouk, initially claimed they were holding an Israeli officer, but quickly backtracked once the diplomatic backlash became evident and claimed that they had attacked before the ceasefire came into effect. Later. Hamas claimed to have "lost contact" with its fighters in the area.

The Goldin family was informed on Friday that their son was missing. Over the next 24 hours, IDF forensic investigators used DNA sequencing to identify remains from the battlefield as those of Lt Goldin. They reached the conclusion that he could not have survived his wounds.

As soon as Shabbat ended, a special IDF Bet Din pronounced the 23-year-old officer dead. On Sunday, 10,000 people joined the funeral procession and Lt. Goldin was laid to rest in Kfar Saba's military cemetery, across the road from his family's home.

Last updated: 4:45pm, August 7 2014