The IDF published the names of the recipients of citations and medals for their service during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza on Monday.
About half of the candidates will receive their awards from the IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz; the other half will receive their awards from generals of lesser rank.
Fifty-three IDF soldiers total will be awarded – 50 men and 3 women – as well as 9 complete units.
The highest honor to be awarded following the operation, the distinguished service medal, will be awarded to Lt. Eitan Pond, who ran after Sgt. Hadar Goldin as Goldin was dragged away by Hamas terrorists in an attempt to save his life.
Lt. Eitan ran after Goldin – who was presumed abducted – in a Hamas terror tunnel, endangering his life in the process.
The move, while technically against IDF protocol, allowed the IDF to determine Goldin's death – and prevent another batch of terrorist releases under the assumption that Goldin is still alive, a la the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal.
In the end, the deputy commander only went ahead with the approval of the Givati Brigade commander, Col. Ofer Winter. "He said, 'Throw a grenade [in] before you go," Lt. Eitan recalled.
"It was not reckless," he stated. "I made an informed decision. I knew this tunnel was something you don't go into, I knew what the risk would be and understood it – but I decided to act."
Soldier Matan Horash, who also ran into the tunnel after Goldin, will also receive an award.