IDF officer once presumed captured is dead
The IDF announced on Saturday that 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, presumed to have been captured by Hamas, is dead. The determination was based on "forensic evidence from the scene of the attack," the IDF statement said.
Goldin's unit was investigating a Hamas tunnell when several terrorists emerged and opened fire. The incident occurred 90 minutes after a 72 hour truce had been called.
On Friday morning, soldiers from the Givati Brigade’s special forces company advanced toward a tunnel opening near the outskirts of Rafah, 2.5 kilometers from Israeli territory. The tunnel was buttressed by reinforced concrete on both sides; defense officials said it had been dug into Israel with the intent of carrying out a terror attack.
Some members of the company, including the commander, Maj. Benaya Sarel, his radioman Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni and squad leader Goldin approached the structure housing the tunnel opening. As the rest of the soldiers went around the other side of an adjacent building, combatants opened fire on Sarel, Gidoni and Goldin.
The other soldiers reported that this was “heavy fire.” A few minutes later, additional forces arrived and discovered that Sarel and Gidoni had been killed, and that next to their bodies was the body of a militant who had presumably detonated an explosive belt.
Later, the soldiers realized that squad leader Goldin was missing and the deputy company commander decided to advance toward the building and enter the tunnel. The tunnel included corridors, one of them leading to a mosque to the east. Another shaft was found leading to a Hamas bunker.
Reading between the lines, it appears that Lt. Goldin was blown up by the suicide bomber, making identification of the remains difficult.
Confirmation of the death of Goldin was accepted by the family, who said "they accept the military's conclusion and thanked the people of Israel for their support." Earlier, the family held a press conference pleading with the IDF not to leave Gaza without their son.
There is sorrow about the death of Lt. Goldin but also relief that Hamas does not have the bargaining chip they were hoping for. In fact, Hamas alternated between bragging about capturing Goldin and denying they had him. Hamas command and control - spotty even before the war -- has been decimated by the IDF which may account for the terrorist's confusion.
Meanwhile, Operation Protective Edge continues, but may be winding down as Israel redeploy's some of its forces at the Gaza border.