Bereaved Mother of IDF Officer Killed by Hamas During Ceasefire Holds Kerry Morally, Legally Responsible for Son’s Death; Has Hopes Trump Will Erase ‘Stain’ of Predecessor
When US Secretary of State John Kerry gave his speech on the Middle East last Wednesday, “he was like a teacher excoriating his diligent students for the dereliction of their delinquent classmates,” the bereaved mother of one of Israel’s best-known fallen soldiers told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Leah Goldin, mother of late IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin — the 23-year-old Givati Brigade fighter who was ambushed and killed and whose body was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Aug. 1, 2014 after a Kerry-brokered ceasefire went into effect during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza — was not only bemoaning what she called the “harsh” words directed at the Jewish state by America’s outgoing top diplomat, however. She said she actually holds Kerry legally and morally responsible for the death of her son, and for the return of his remains for burial in Israel.
“Hadar was not a victim of war, but of a ceasefire,” Goldin said, spewing forth, in elegant Hebrew, her frustration with Kerry, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and even the Israeli government, which she said has done nothing to apply pressure on the Palestinian terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip to hand over her son’s body or on the international community to live up to its “self-proclaimed humanitarian mission.”
“After all, this is a humanitarian cause,” she said.
Not only that, but “Kerry wouldn’t even deign to walk a few feet down the hall to see an exhibit we held at the UN of Hadar’s artwork,” Goldin said, referring to last September, when she and her husband traveled to New York during the General Assembly.
While there, she recounted, she was “very disappointed” with the way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned her son’s case in his address to the world body.
What Netanyahu said was:
Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today. They have one request — to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing — to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son, Hadar, in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.
I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas — all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.
Goldin called his words completely insufficient. “He didn’t say that Hadar was killed during a ceasefire,” she complained. “He didn’t say it was the world’s responsibility.”
“But it’s their fault,” she said of the UN member states. “Since they were the ones who made the ceasefire that Hamas violated. They and Kerry.”
Asked why she is still focusing on Kerry, who will be out of office in less than three weeks, Goldin said, “He won’t just retire; he will be going around the globe engaging in ‘diplomacy’ and meeting with leaders afterwards, too.”
Goldin expressed hope that the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump will consider her plight — and Kerry’s part in it — “to be a stain on American policy, which it will want to remove.”
“I am waiting for Trump with bated breath,” she said. “Maybe he and his team will behave differently towards terrorists like Hamas, and put a stop to this travesty in general, and to my family’s suffering in particular.”
In two separate interviews with The Algemeiner — one in May, on the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, and another one in June, ahead of the signing of the Jerusalem-Ankara rapprochement agreement — Goldin emphasized the need to “turn the equation on its head” where terrorism emanating from Gaza is concerned.
“Until now, Hamas has abducted soldiers and demanded a heavy price from Israel for their release,” she said. But now, “rather than waiting for Hamas to demand a price from Israel, a price from Hamas must be exacted for not returning the bodies.”
For example, she said, money for the rehabilitation of Gaza, devastated by retaliatory IDF strikes in response to years of rocket-fire reigning down on Israeli cities, should be made conditional.
In addition, Goldin had hoped that the government would use the deal with Turkey as leverage. Because of Turkey’s support for Hamas — she said at the time — negotiations that were going on for years between the governments of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Netanyahu should have included a stipulation for the return of Hadar and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, another fallen IDF soldier whose body remains in Gaza.
During his weekly cabinet meeting at the end of June, Netanyahu gave her cause for optimism on this score.
“There is much misinformation and disinformation about the possible agreement being crystallized with Turkey,” he said. “I would therefore like to clarify that we have been making every effort, through both overt and covert means, to return to Israel Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, may their memory be blessed, as well as the two Israelis being held in Gaza [Bedouin Israeli Hisham Al-Sayed and Ethiopian-Israeli Avraham Mengistu, a mentally unstable man who crossed over into Gaza last September]. We are in continual contact with the families. And we will not rest until we return the boys home.”
When the deal was sealed, however, it transpired that no clause relating to the young men’s bodies had been included in it — much to the ire of the Goldin and Shaul families.
This Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet ruled that the bodies of Hamas operatives will no longer be returned to their families for burial, as part of new efforts to pressure the terrorist group to make swap deals. Under this policy, Palestinian terrorists will be buried in a cemetery for enemy combatants — and exhumed if and when Hamas turns over the remains of Hadar and Oron Shaul, and releases Mengistu and al-Sayed.
The Goldin and Shaul families both made statements urging Netanyahu to follow through on this policy, and criticizing the government for “doing nothing” over the last two years and five months to secure the return of their sons.
Hadar was survived not only by his parents, but by his twin brother, Tzur, his older sister Ayelet, his older brother Hemi and his fiancée Edna Seroussi, whom he was scheduled to marry mere weeks after the day he was killed.