Cpl. Maya Villalobo Polo, 19, an observation soldier in the Border Defense Corps’s 414th unit, was killed on October 7 when Hamas terrorists overran the Nahal Oz army base next to the Gaza Strip.
Villalobo Polo, a dual Spanish-Israeli citizen who lived in Givatayim, was planning to visit Spain a week after the Hamas onslaught, her family said, to celebrate her father’s birthday. Instead, he flew to Israel for her funeral.
Family and friends remembered Villalobo Polo as loving horse riding and surfing, greeting customers at the local pizza shop where she worked with a smile, and being a dedicated friend.
Her family issued a Spanish-language statement mourning her loss “with much pain and love.”
“She will always be in our memory as a happy girl full of love, a teenager eager to see the world, a young woman in love with Spain and very affectionate with her parents,” the statement read. “We want to thank those who have been watching over her, especially her family and friends.”
In a separate statement, the family wrote that it “cannot find words to describe everything she gave us… Maya will always live in the heart of her parents, in the heart of all of us.”
Her friend Noa Noga wrote in Ynet that the world without Villalobo Polo feels wholly empty: “What is this world worth if you’re not here? How did they pluck such a perfect flower like you?”
“You were the most trustworthy and direct person I knew, the embodiment of the perfection of creation,” Noga added. “Each of your character traits were drawn by God, you had an incredible amount of generosity, you were always here, not just for those close to you.”
Her aunt, Havatzelet Sinvani, wrote on Facebook about the enormous “loss… she left a huge hole in her family when she was killed, there is no comfort, we are all sad.” Sinvani added that her niece “loved her [army] position so much, but they weren’t protected.”
Her father, Eduardo Villalobo, a professor at the University of Seville, shared the adapted lyrics to “He Is Gone” by David Harris on X, writing: “You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived/ You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.”