Only a select few know, but amongst the hundreds of Israeli
combat soldiers participating in military operations in the Gaza Strip are three female solders. After long years where girls were prohibited from entering battle zones, it was decided to include female paramedics alongside the males serving on the frontlines.
This, however, was under the condition that they would never step foot in enemy territories. The solution is that Zohar, Mor and Bat El never step out of the armored vehicles transporting them into Gaza, not even for a minute.
Bat El Maman from Kiryat Motzkin, who has been volunteering at the Magen David Adom ambulance service since she was 15, always knew she wants to save lives while in the army.
Zohar Brosh Cohen from Givat Avni and Mor Axelrod from Netanya happened to see a newspaper article about a female paramedic serving in a helicopter before they enlisted, and decided this was the direction they wanted to take as well.
“The training is long and not easy,” they said, “it starts with a four month, pre-army course and includes mainly theory. It continues with basic training, assignment to different hospitals, practical studies, and ends with supplementary military studies. The entire training period lasts for a full year.”
At the end of the course, these three girls didn’t want to just serve anywhere; they wanted the “hottest spot,” the Gaza Strip. Up until two years ago, girls were not allowed to cross the line into Gaza.
However, Chief Medical Officer Brigadier-General Dr. Nachman Esh pushed for a change and now female paramedics enter battles with their male counterparts in armored vehicles. The goal is to save lives, but only under the condition that they never exit the military vehicles.
“We came here because we wanted to be in the most significant, interesting place,” said Axelrod, “in essence this is really an experience that few girls have. Maybe the tank looks big on the outside, but we sit in very small confines with all the medical supplies filling up space as well.”
However, the crowdedness is not the only hurdle. Sometimes they have to spend 24 hours and more with a group of guys who don’t always understand why they are there. Eventually, “they understand that we are there to help their fellow soldiers,” said Brosh-Cohen
In the past few months, the girls have had to deal with a number of real-time incidents where they saved both Israeli and Palestinian lives.
Axelrod said that the women “think solely about saving lives and it doesn’t matter whether they are soldiers or Palestinians. Clearly, many thoughts run through my head afterwards, but our job is clear.”
The three soldiers said that after coming back from a mission it takes them a lot of time to clean off the sand and dirt. “No place is left sand-less, we can’t see anything, we sweat and we need a few good showers to return to our original state," one of them said.
However, they are not complaining.
“We have great satisfaction, it is a wonderful feeling to know that you are in Gaza, saving lives,” one of them said.