Rabbi Elkana Vizel with his family
Rabbi Elkana Vizel with his familyCourtesy of the family

A letter written by Master Sergeant (res.) Rabbi Elkana Vizel before he left to battle in Gaza was found by his family after he fell in the building collapse tragedy in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

"If you are reading these words, something probably happened to me. First of all, if I am taken prisoner by Hamas I demand that you do not make any deal to free me from any terrorist. Our crushing victory is more important than anything else, so please, just keep on working with all your might so our victory will be as crushing as possible," Rabbi Vizel wrote.

The next lines are especially haunting: "Maybe I will have fallen in battle. When a soldier falls in battle it's sad. But I ask of you, be happy. Don't be sad when you part from me. Sing a lot, hold each other's hands, and support each other. We have so much to be happy about and proud of. We are the generation of redemption! We are writing the most significant moments in the history of our nation and the entire world. So please be optimistic. Continue choosing life constantly. Lives of love, hope, purity, and optimism. Look at those dear to you in the white of their eyes and remind them that everything they go through in life is worth it and they have a lot to live for."

He concluded: "Live! Don't stop the power of life for a moment! During Operation Protective Edge I was injured. I had the option to stay behind, but I don't regret for a moment that I returned to combat. On the contrary, that was the best decision I ever made."

21 IDF reservists were killed when two buildings near the Israel-Gaza border collapsed as the forces were rigging them with explosives to demolish them. According to initial investigations, a terror cell emerged from an orchard and fired RPGs at the structures, causing the explosives to detonate and the structures to collapse, killing 19 soldiers. A tank at the scene attempted to eliminate the terrorists, but it too was hit by an RPG, killing three additional soldiers.