Hadar Goldin: Israeli soldier reunited with family after 20 months apart

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Hadar Goldin was reunited with his mother amid the happy reunions

When Hadar Goldin’s mother picked up a phone call from a New York airport on 18 January the family was stunned.

His mum had gone to retrieve a passport for her son. She had not been aware he was among the other passengers.

And then the Israeli soldier’s father turned up to say his son had been on duty in Gaza.

Israel has admitted wrongly declaring that Hadar and three other soldiers had been abducted by Hamas. And a plea for international intervention led by Barack Obama’s UN ambassador to Israel went unheeded.

After 20 months apart, Hadar and his family are reunited.

Hadar was born in the Israeli city of Nazareth in 2002. His mother, Tzipi Goldin, said he was the first boy she had ever seen in the hospital after giving birth. She decided to take him to New York City because she wanted to be able to speak freely to Israelis about the conflict in her homeland.

When her passport arrived at John F Kennedy airport a few days later, her phone call was finally answered. It was news that she had been waiting two years for.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Hadar was a medic with the Israeli military

Hadar had gone missing after his unit had a helicopter incident on 19 March 2014 with Hamas forces in Gaza. His unit returned to the airbase but not Hadar, who was later reported as missing after his unit’s convoy went missing.

His parents filed a complaint with the army. At the time, he was a medic with the Israeli military, part of the military’s medical corps.

And despite Israel failing to find their son, at an Israeli military court in January 2019, its officials declared that Hadar was abducted by Hamas and held hostage by its members.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Hadar’s father, Goldin, said he wants to continue working for peace

Tzipi Goldin was told of the finding at a meeting with the head of military criminal investigations and at the same time told Hadar’s father, Goldin, that his son had been killed, a military tribunal spokesman told Al Jazeera.

The fate of the three missing soldiers – Staff Sergeant Hadar Goldin, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul – was part of the third Palestinian attack on Israel on 1 March 2014 in which six civilians, including four children, were killed.

During that incident, Israeli forces captured a Palestinian journalist, who is currently being held by Israel.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Some observers have expressed concern that the case exposes a lack of transparency within Israel’s military justice system

The family has demanded an official apology from the army and are now being compensated by the military.

Hadar’s parents say they feel completely vindicated and had a conviction that Hadar was still alive at that point.

Hadar’s father, Goldin, said his family had changed his son’s name by deed poll.

The family has spoken to media outlets and recorded videos saying they now want peace.

And in a video that was released last month at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Hadar’s mother said she wanted to honour Hadar’s memory by working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She also said she wished to visit Gaza – but was sure Hadar was not there.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Hadar’s family said they had a conviction that Hadar was still alive at the time

In the 20 months that Hadar’s parents had not seen him, they had sent him many videos and messages via the army. He had believed that they were his attempts to reach her.

She was reminded of his disappearance when in late December 2014, Israeli troops received a threat from Hamas in Gaza and had to evacuate their base in Kerem Shalom, a border area, as a result.

Hadar was searching for them. The soldiers did not see him, as he was in a different building and was discovered days later by his parents.

In the end, Hadar had told her he was okay, that he was trying to get there and that he had been in a tunnel at the time and had survived the attack.

After a year in the Israeli detention facility in Tel Aviv, he returned to Tzipi Goldin’s home in Brooklyn. He was reunited with his mother and his three siblings, Eitan, Noam and Inbal.

After the three returned to Israel, the family received a call from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to say he had accepted a resolution from the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Israel had illegally seized another Palestinian civilian, Khaled Abu Toameh.

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