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Rachel Edri became one of the symbols of this war. Born in Ofakim in 1959, she grew up in a family of 14 siblings to parents from Persia (now Iran) and Morocco. At 12 years old she began cleaning stairwells as a job and left high school in 11th grade. After marrying David Edri, a truck and crane driver, she worked for 43 years in the Tze’elim Military Base Shekem store. In June 2023, she received the Excellence Award at the President’s Residence for outstanding, long-term service. Rachel and David have three children, two of whom are police officers, and two grandchildren, and enjoyed a calm life in Israel’s southern city. That is, until that fateful October 7. 

As streams of terrorists broke into Ofakim under cover of nonstop missile fire, five terrorists gained control of the Edri family’s home where David and Rachel were at the time, taking both as hostages. Stunned, David and Rachel were in a constant state of life-threatening danger and anxiety caused by the heavily armed intruders. There was no way for them to escape the house or overpower the terrorists. With her keen senses, Rachel realized that she needed to get the terrorists chatting and find a way to make them like her enough to avoid harming her. She showed a keen interest in them, asking where they were from, what their lives were like, and offering them a meal and drink to ensure they would not become angry due to hunger. Rachel also realized that she was able to send messages which would help the police forces surrounding the house.

She went to the bathroom several times, enabling the police to take note of her, each time being accompanied by one of the terrorists. She also dressed and bandaged one of the terrorist’s wounds. Signaling with her fingers to her son waiting with other police officers outside, she indicated how many terrorists were in the house. At 2 am, following 19 hours of sheer nerve-wracking fear, the Special Forces unit were able to take control, freeing Rachel and David.

Rachel’s courage is a testimony to her ingenuity, her strong intuition, and her ability to function under extreme stress and uncertainty. 

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