Roni Eshel, a 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, was stationed at a military base near the Gaza border when Hamas attacked last Saturday. Although she didn't answer her phone when her mother called to check on her that morning, she later texted to say that she was busy but OK.
“I love you so much,” Eschel told her mother, Sharon, about three hours after the attack started.
Her parents haven't heard from her since. More than a week later, Eshel's family is desperate to know happened to their daughter. Her father, Eyal Eshel, describes the wait for news as “hell.”
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think, actually. Where is she? What is she eating? If it’s cold for her? If it’s hot? I don’t know nothing,” Eyal Eshel said.
The IDF hasn't publicly released any names of hostages. Her father says IDF has told them she is considered missing; he believes she has been kidnapped.
“Otherwise, where is she?” he asked.
Eshel grew up in a small village north of Tel Aviv. She reported for military service two weeks after finishing school. She was three months into her second year of mandatory military service.
“It's part of our life here in Israel,” her father says.
Roni Eshel was in a communications unit at a base near Nahal Oz. She had returned to the base from a brief vacation on the Wednesday before the attack.
Eshel was proud to be a third generation of her family to join the Israeli military. Her father, uncle and grandfather also served.
“She was very happy to serve the country,” her father said.
Her father said she has planned to travel and enroll in a university after completing her two years of service. But he can't think about her future while she's missing. Eyal Eschel says he isn't sleeping, eating or working while he waits.
“I’m not ashamed to ask (for) help. Please help us,” he said.