Among the 21 soldiers who died in Monday’s building collapse in Maghazi, the central Gaza Strip, was Master Sgt. (res.) Elkana Vizel, 35, a resident of Bnei Dekalim in southern Israel. Vizel, married to Galit and a father of four, worked as a teacher at the Naom School in Bnei Dekalim, where his wife also works.
On Tuesday, just hours after he was killed, it emerged that he had prepared a letter ahead of time for the event of his being killed in action.
“If you are reading these words, something probably happened to me. First of all, in case I was captured by Hamas, I demand that no deal be made to release any terrorist in order to release me. Our overwhelming victory is more important than anything, so please—just press ahead with all the force until our victory is as overwhelming as possible,” Vizel wrote in the letter that was retrieved with his body.
The letter continues: “Maybe I fell in battle. When a soldier falls in battle it is sad. But I ask you to be happy. Don’t be sad when you part from me. Sing a lot, hold each other’s hands, and strengthen one another. We have so much to be excited and happy about—we are the generation of Jewish redemption! We are writing the most meaningful moments in the history of our people and the whole world. So please be optimistic. Keep choosing life all the time—a life of love, hope, purity and optimism.”
He continues with the theme of celebrating life rather than mourning his death: “Look into the eyes of your loved ones and remind them that everything they experience in this life is worth it and that they have a lot to live for. Live! Don’t stop for a moment the intensities of life! I was wounded in ‘Operation Protective Edge [against Hamas in 2014].’ I had the choice to stay behind, but I don’t regret for a moment returning to be a fighter. On the contrary, it’s the best decision I ever made.”
Itamar Vizel wrote on Facebook on Tuesday: “The heart refuses to believe the words I’m writing. My twin brother Elkana Vizel is no more. He fell heroically in battle yesterday in the Gaza Strip.”
Elkana’s friend Shuki Shomron wrote on Facebook: “Rabbi Elkana taught with me at the school in Bnei Dekalim. A very sweet and talented man, kind-hearted and an excellent friend. I was also privileged to go running with him sometimes, just him and me in the beautiful hills of our area.”
Vizel was buried on Tuesday afternoon in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Originally published in Israel Hayom.