The parents of missing IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, have expressed their shock at rumors that the IDF was beginning to withdraw from Gaza, and urged the government not to abandon their son.
"I am a Battalion Commander in the reserves, I performed reserves duty until I was 50. (IDF Chief of Staff) Benny Gantz was my commander and it cannot be that he gave an order to the IDF to leave when there is still a soldier inside (the Gaza Strip.)" said his father Dr. Simcha Goldin outside their family home in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv.
"I cannot imagine that the army would abandon one of its fighters," he continued, expressing hope that reports of an impending unilateral withdrawal were unfounded.
"We received tremendous support, because our boys had gone to protect the south and the Gazan belt communities - and I cannot believe that he residents of the Gaza belt would accept that a soldier who went out to defend them has been abandoned."
"I demand that the state of Israel not leave Gaza without bringing my child back home to me, and not abandon my son, and not abandon any son that has gone out to defend it," said his mother Hedva, her voice breaking.
"Hadar is alive, and I don't want to hear any other possibility," she added, clearly distraught.
Hadar's twin brother Tzur - who was himself fighting in Gaza until being brought back to join his family after news broke of his brother's kidnapping - said that he also felt Hadar was still alive.
"Hadar was sent on behalf of the homeland to defend the residents of the south. That's who we are and that's what we give to the state. Hadar is the most important thing to the state now," he said.
"I evacuated tens of casualties, including my own soldiers, all so that we could say to them that the state and the nation had done everything to keep them alive. For Hadar, there is nothing to worry about - we will do everything for him."
Tzur was interviewed with Hadar late last year by Arutz Sheva, as the two completed the officers training course together.
Hadar's sister Ayellet echoed his words, saying her brother "was abducted by a terrorist organization, and he is alive."
"Our Hadar went in alive to the Gaza Strip, and we feel that he is alive. I am not prepared for any other words to enter into the lexicon."
Despite beginning to pull out from Gaza, the IDF is still continuing its search for Hadar, although it is unclear for how much longer the search will continue.
Hamas's "armed wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, acknowledged its forces had staged an ambush early Friday in which soldiers were killed, but denied holding Goldin, saying the attackers were missing and presumed dead.
"At 7:00 am on Friday, our mujahedeen started an exchange of fire with the occupation forces... east of Rafah, and a lot of Israeli soldiers were killed and injured," the group said.
"We have lost contact with the mujahedeen unit that was in that ambush, and we think that all the fighters in this unit were killed by Zionist shelling along with the soldier, who the enemy says is missing, assuming our combatants captured this soldier during the fighting," it said.
"Until now, we in Qassam have no knowledge of the missing soldier, or his whereabouts or the circumstances of his disappearance."
Meanwhile, the IDF has attacked over 200 terror targets overnight Friday/Saturday, mostly in Rafah.