Angry over Hamas-held soldiers, IDF reservists return campaign medals to PM
20 reserve troops return 'worthless' medals belonging to 400 recipients until remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are returned to Israel; ‘The war is not over until the last soldier is returned home to his family,’ reads an open letter.
The four-hundred soldiers returning their medals served in the Givati Brigade, the Golani Brigade and others. The medals were placed in a box along with an open letter that had already been sent to the prime minister, explaining their motives.
“We have decided to return the medals from the war that we received due to our service. A campaign medal that does not represent values is worthless," the reservists wrote. "The war is not over until the last soldier is returned home to his family.”
Security guards at the residence on Balfour Street prevented the reservists from placing the box on the gate’s barrier, saying that it cannot be placed inside the premises and that they are unable to pass it on to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Or Cohen, who fought in an elite unit of the Givati Brigade with Goldin expressed his anger with the situation arising from the kidnapping of his comrade’s remains.
“Four years after Protective Edge we cannot remain silent anymore. We are here to explain to the prime minister and cabinet ministers that Operation Protective Edge does not end until we see the return of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who fought in their mission,” Cohen explained.
“We drafted with the knowledge of the existence of a non-written agreement between the State of Israel and its soldiers that it is obligated to bring us back whether we are alive or dead,” he continued.
Hadar Goldin’s brother, Tzur, praised the solidarity shown by the reservists. “This is an exceptional event. It wasn’t us who initiated it. This action points to a badge of shame when it comes to the so-called loyalty to the IDF soldiers. We have an opportunity to create an equation in which a agreement with Gaza depends on the return of the missing soldiers,” Tzur said.
Last Tuesday, the Goldin and Shaul families boycotted a ceremony commemorating the fallen soldiers of Protective Edge in protest against the government's failure to return their sons for burial in Israel.
While the ceremony was taking place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, 15 bereaved families whose sons had fallen during the 7-week summer offensive protested outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Speaking at the state ceremony on Mount Herzl, Netanyahu said that "We continue investing great efforts to bring back our fighters Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Not everything is out in the open, and that's a good thing. This is a commitment that will remain until their return, relentlessly. The same applies to our citizens held in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as all of our missing persons throughout the years."
In June, Goldin’s comrades-in-arms sent an open letter to Netanyahu, calling on him not to allow the Gaza Strip's rehabilitation until the remains of Goldin and fellow fallen IDF soldier Oron Shaul are returned to Israel for burial.