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(photo credit: Channel 10)
Lili Alon's family members and friends gathered at her mother's house in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood early on Monday.
They were hanging strongly onto the hope that Alon, together with her high school girlfriend, Rachel Tufan, both 23, were in some miraculous way not on the flight from Bangkok to Phuket that crashed Sunday and took 89 passengers' lives, eight of them feared to be Israelis.
Two of the Israeli victims have been identified, but a check by Israel Police representatives carrying DNA samples who arrived in Thailand on Monday was being awaited before publication of their names, according to Beit Chabad's rabbi in Bangkok, Nechemia Wilhelm.
In Jerusalem, the long wait for any such information was proving unbearable. "She is the most beautiful and smart girl, not at all hasty," cried Margalit, Lili Alon's aunt, who lives a couple of blocks away. "I don't know what made them change the course of their trip and take an earlier flight to Phuket."
Margalit said the last time she spoke to Lili was on Rosh Hashana eve.
"Lili called to say Happy New Year," she said. "She told me she was enjoying the trip and that she planned to fly to Phuket later this week and to spend Yom Kippur in Beit Chabad. She said she met some friends and they were going to travel around the islands with them."
Lili's friends and family members said she and Tufan had been planning this trip for a long time. Both of them graduated from the same high school in Gilo and remained close friends who enjoyed traveling together. On the flight from Bangkok to Phuket they sat next to each other, waiting to land on the exotic tropical island.
A few years ago, Lili suffered a cerebrovascular accident but recovered completely. Several years later instead of serving in the IDF she did her national service in the same hospital department where she was treated. She was slated to start her second year of biochemistry studies at Hadassah College in Jerusalem and was the pride of the family.
Lili's younger brother, Yonathan, 21, refused to speak about his missing sister, saying he believed everything was still possible.
Lili's mother, Shoshana, was rushed to the hospital the night before, shortly after she received the bad news. Sunday night a police forensics team arrived at the family house before flying to Phuket and collected DNA samples to identify Lili's body in case she was among the dead passengers.
"Shoshana raised Lili and Yonathan all by herself, and what a great job she did. We all must stay strong for her," Margalit said.
At Tufan's house, two streets away, many family members were sitting inside and praying for a miracle. Rachel's parents and three brothers refused to speak to the media but kept talking to the Foreign Ministry representatives in Israel and in Thailand. On Monday a representative of the family was set to fly to Phuket.
The two known Israeli survivors of the plane crash in Phuket - Vladimir and Isabelle Freilichman - are suffering from spinal fractures that are not life threatening but require them to lie immobile, according to Dr. Daphna Givati of the Magen David Adom team that flew to Thailand. The Freilichmans were brought to Ko Phuket hospital for X-rays and observation, but they have not undergone any surgical intervention, and are to be transported to an Israeli hospital as soon as possible.
Besides the two Jerusalem girls and the Freilichmans, six other Israeli passengers were on the flight and are still reported missing: Adi Naim, 25, and Rotem Naori, 24, from Kfar Yona, who were married two weeks ago and were on their honeymoon; their friends Itzik Biton, 26, and Hofit Iliya from Kfar Yona, who were married five months ago; Hila Gershoni, 23, from Holon; and Tal Feldman, 23, from Rishon Lezion.