Sgt. Roni Eshel, 19, an observation soldier in the Border Defense Corps’s 414th unit, was killed during the Hamas onslaught on southern Israel on October 7.
She was considered missing for more than a month, as her parents begged publicly and desperately for information, until on November 9 the IDF finally confirmed that she had been killed during the initial attack.
Roni’s mother, Sharon Eshel, posted a death notice on her Facebook page, notifying people about the funeral held on November 12 in the Kfar Saba military cemetery.
“My beloved girl. My Roni-ki. We went all over the world to find you. But we didn’t succeed. I love you my darling girl, I love you so much,” wrote Eshel on Facebook.
The family lives in Tzur Yitzhak, near Kochav Yair.
Eshel, 19, had been in the army for a year and two months, working as one of the communication lookouts at an army base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz — part of the team of soldiers who watch the feeds from the cameras placed on the high-tech barrier that was breached by Hamas terrorists.
Eyal Eshel, Roni’s father, stated in many interviews that Roni had told the family that Hamas was studying the border.
“‘Dad, they’re studying us,'” she told Eshel. “‘They’re doing their homework. They know almost every corner of the fence itself.'”
Eyal Eshel visited the Nahal Oz base where Roni was stationed, and saw the Emergency Operation Center destroyed.
On October 7, Eshel’s mother received a text at 9:27 a.m. from Roni, saying that she was okay and in the command room of the base, meant to be a secure space. It was the last time the family heard from her.
“She really liked her job in the army,” Eshel’s uncle, Guy Malki told The Times of Israel. “She felt a sense of mission in what she was doing, defending the land.”
In some ways, what Roni did in the army came naturally to her. She was the eldest of three, with two younger brothers whom she protected or got cross with when necessary, said her uncle. He called her “super responsible.”
She was also a teenager who enjoyed life, Malki said, “enjoying what all kids love to do, music and American culture and Taylor Swift and Maroon 5,” who she saw in concert in Tel Aviv last year.
At her funeral, her father said that “like everyone else, she planned what she would do after her army service, and how to take the world by storm. In one day that all came to an end.”
“I believed with all my heart the entire month that you would come home to us,” he added. “Roni was warm, witty and kind-hearted. Our Roni, I want you to know that we fought for 35 days like a lion and lioness for our cub… Roni I’m sorry. I failed. I failed in bringing you home.”