Eden Eini is 18 years old young woman serving with a fighting unit. She wrote this powerful letter to her grandparents after her unit’s 600 soldiers went into Gaza.
We spoke with her while delivering packages at a base near Gaza the day after the cease fire began.
War. How can you describe it?
It is not something you see coming, only when you take a step backwards you see how bad the situation is.
War from my side:
Last Saturday, I decided, after I took a nice nap, to write you a letter about life in the army- and in Gaza.
I didn't have time to finish my first sentence when I got a phone call to be immediately in the base. ( The time was 7:00 pm)Mom and Dad took me to Tel-Aviv and from there I went with a special bus to my base. We didn't sleep that night.
The Israeli air- force started their operation. Every 5 minutes we heard a new boom falling far away. We stayed up all night to pack our base and on the next day we were out of there.
The next evening I found myself in this huge garage, hangar (with only 3 walls - which means we slept outside.)
It was me, 10 girls and 600 fighters getting ready for war. Nobody knew when or what is going to happen. (The new base I was in had 3 different units - ours, 'Golani' and 'Givati'.) The only thing we knew is that they have to go get in there, when? We didn't know. We stayed there a week. Every day they said that tomorrow they're going in and at the last minute it was delayed.
Every time they used to tell them to get ready - my heart stopped. In those 7 days I spent with my 600 fighters I managed to fall in love with each-one of them.
During the week we had so much fun. We had stand-up, we had karaoke and smiles. I loved spending this week with them.
I found myself in such surrealistic world. Learning about all the secret maps, learning how to take care if someone got hurt, learning how to clean the guns, learning how to take care of all equipment. And that's only cuz I spend so much time with them.
In my job I work with all the high officers, and we turned out to be close friend. I found myself being a crying shoulder to all the high officers who don't know who to talk to about how they feel with all this mess. They can't tell their soldiers they're scared. They can't tell their commander they think its stupid, that's where I come in.
Everybody knows that this war is necessary, but nobody knows how we got to this situation.
During those 7 days of waiting I heard booms, I saw the IAF attack, and I saw how the sky filled up with smoke.
But I didn't want to go home. No way I'm leaving my 600 soldiers here. All the girls left. Only me and 2 others stayed.
This last Saturday I brought all my 600 kids in to Gaza.
I painted their faces.
I checked their shoes.
I put their bags on their shoulders.
I was the last one to hug them before they went in.
And when its dark and you cannot recognize their face they wave good bye and walk away- to bring quiet to the south.
And in the back of their minds- they know that not all of them are going to come back.
They used to say- that they are not safe in Gaza just as there those who are not safe at home. It must change.
It's been 4 days that they are in now, and I can't sleep.
I got a new job- my job is to wait in Tel-Aviv and if there are wounded (God forbid!) I need to be in the hospital with them.
Sorry if my letter was not so cheerful... but that's how life is here now.
I try to tell mom and dad all the good things that's going on with me (like how much fun I'm having, and all the new things I learned, and all the people I meet...) and not the only bad stuff... (Like how cold it is at night, and how I don't have clean clothes, and how I hear all the booms) but I always smile- I notice that if you smile it makes other people smile too. Which is good.
I need to go. Love you.
Don't worry about me- I'm going to be fine. - say a prayer to all of my soldiers. I want them home.
After reading this letter, it is easy to understand the significance of your appreciation and support. To say the soldiers appreciate your letters and packages is an understatement. We thank them, they thank us, we thank them again and they thank us again, saying that the outpouring of love and support gives them strength and pride in their mission to serve and protect Am Israel.