Why Is Welfare Group Removing Letters to Soldiers in Gaza From Care Packages?

5th graders' letter found in garbage near a Soldiers' Welfare Association branch in Be'er Sheva.

If you're planning on sending a package of goodies or a letter to a soldier on the frontline via the Soldiers' Welfare Association, be advised it may not reach its destination - at least not the way you sent it.

The Soldiers' Welfare Association, which is responsible for sending letters and packages from civilians to soldiers at the front, apparently empties the packages, repacks the contents and sends them on without the senders' letters, Haaretz has learned.

Bar Hamdani, a fifth-grade student in Bat Yam's Ben-Gurion school, sent a package with his classmates together with a letter to an Israel Defense Forces soldier in the Gaza Strip.

"To the brave soldier somewhere in the south," he wrote. "I hope you're looking after yourself and wish you success in your mission. The whole nation blesses you and the other brave soldiers. Love you, Bar Hamdani."

But Bar's letter, which was sent with the package three days ago via the Soldiers' Welfare Association, was found in a garbage bin near association's Be'er Sheva branch Thursday.

"I gave him all kinds of goodies to put in the parcel," Bar's mother said. "He was very excited by the school's initiative and put a lot of effort into the letter. It hurts me that the letter, which should have reached the soldiers, was thrown away like a worthless piece of paper."

A volunteer at the association said that this package and other people's parcels were opened and their contents sorted out item by item. They were then packed in different boxes and the senders' letters replaced by letters from the association taking credit for the packages and their safe delivery.