[translated from Hebrew]

Shalom Susie,

I am writing you a letter because there are things that I wanted to say, but are hard for me to say in conversation - at least for now.

When the thing most dear to you is plucked from you no words, even the most beautiful and pleasing, will help console you.

And the president arrives and other dignitaries, most of whom do not belong. And they speak words and share your grief, it is nice to hear but it is not for you.

It is the children, the young, the youth, they are the ones who are easier to listen to. They are more sincere, they are feeling more deeply, they will give you more strength to carry on. And I hope they will continue to come to you, to provide you companionship. I at least, though I am at home infrequently, will come whenever I am able, at every opportunity.

On the night between Wednesday and Thursday, between the 29th. and 30th. of January, I was lying in ambush deep inside Lebanon. It was very cold, all of us huddled in our Hermoniyot [special winter jackets], our feet had frozen a long time earlier. I am unable to fall asleep even during the time allotted me. I sit by my platoon commander, half a meter away is the radio operator.

That night three ambushes took place in Lebanon, spread across the central section of the security zone: Our ambush, auxiliary 12 of Golani, north of us an ambush of our rifle company and north of them an ambush of the Nahal reconnaissance patrol. The distances between the ambushes are relatively short and all are roughly in a line.

In the middle of the night, about 12:00, the radio which had been silent until now becomes active. There is a commotion on the radio. I have difficulty sleeping. I am trying to hear what is being said on the radio, but the radio is a bit too far and I can not hear clearly. I may have heard Yonatanís voice, but I didnít know it was him.

A little later, I hear helicopters very near to us. The helicopters fly overhead, for a long time unable to land. We already understand that something happened. At first we were sure that our rifle company encountered terrorists, but we soon understood it was the Nahal unit that ran into an explosive charge on their way to the ambush.

Over the radio they inform of wounded and dead and I still do not remember that Yonatan is serving in the Nahal reconnaissance patrol. The next day we end the ambush and go back to the post. The way is long and difficult. Heavy rain, thick fog - itís impossible to see anything - I carry a very heavy load and sink in the mud. For 5 hours we walk until reaching Israel. Thatís it, I say to myself, at least in the near future I wonít be going back to Lebanon, it was my last ambush before starting my sergeantsí course.

I return to the post. Hear about the soldiers who were killed yesterday from the Nahal reconnaissance patrol. Hear for the first time that an officer was killed as well, but I still have no idea it is Yonatan because I didnít remember that he serves in the reconnaissance patrol. I look at my watch. The hour is late already. I decide not to call home to let them know that everything is fine, Iíll do it tomorrow. I go to sleep.

The next day I call home, and my mother tells me that Susieís son was killed. I was in shock. A shudder passed through my whole body. I immediately ran all over the post. I was looking for a newspaper to see that maybe there was a mistake. I found a newspaper thrown out in one of the rooms. I opened the newspaper and I saw your and Boazís picture on the front page of the newspaper. I didnít know what to do. Yonatan was so near to me that night and I didnít even know. I wanted to call you and speak with you, but I was afraid. I waited a whole week to go on leave. I had to come to you. I was very scared, I was scared that I wouldnít be able to take it, that I would have nothing to say, that I wouldnít be able to look you in the eyes; but most of all I was afraid Iíd cry.

Iím a very emotional person, but I always keep everything ďinsideĒ, in my gut. Outside I also try to look the toughest fellow on earth but inside Iím quite weak.

Oren Yaish

Oren Yaish, February 1997

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