by David Kramer
During the fighting in the Gaza Strip in 2014, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel shaft in the vicinity of a group of Israeli soldiers. One of the terrorists proceeded to detonate himself, killing three IDF soldiers in the process and kidnapping the body of one of them, Lt. Hadar Goldin, dragging him down the same tunnel from where these terrorists had emerged.
Believing that Hadar might still be alive, Lt. Eitan, one of Hadar’s good friends along with three soldiers under his command, chased after the terrorists into the pitch-dark tunnel for hundreds of meters, fully aware of a possible ambush and without any prior knowledge as to where they were going or how to get back. “I went four meters (13 feet) down into the tunnel when it began to collapse,” recalled Eitan. “I could hardly see anything; and stones were obscuring the light. I returned to the surface, took my equipment, my helmet and gun, and went back into the tunnel with my soldiers.” Before entering the tunnel, he told his commander, “If I’m not back in 5 minutes, I’m dead.”
As a result of the pursuit, Eitan and his team found evidence that later helped the military rabbinate (religious authority) draw the conclusion that Goldin had been killed before his body was taken. In an emotional encounter at the Goldin family house that week, Eitan came to present the family with belongings of their son and speak to his family.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin was paying a shiva (mourning) call at the time and spoke to Eitan.
“You may take your act of heroism for granted, but it gives us a lot of hope,” the president told him. “Your decision is awe-inspiring. Your soldiers are heroes on a personal level, and also on a national and moral level.”
As of the 24th November 2020, Hadar Goldin’s body has still not been returned by Hamas, in violation of international law as defined by the Geneva Convention.