Noa and Shira Cohen are just a week shy of their 20th birthday. They're the kind of twins that have been doing everything together since birth. A year and a half ago, they enlisted in the Border Police.
On the morning of October 7, Israel woke up to a traumatizing unprecedented reality, and both twins put on their uniforms and went right into the heat of battle to defend their home.
"That Saturday, we had just left base for another shift in Be'er Sheva," Noa recounts. "Just 10 minutes later, at 6:30, we could see rockets shot down right over our heads. On comms, we heard a near-dystopian message: 'Sderot station on fire, there are dozens of terrorists, please help!'"
Driving down Route 34 near Moshav Yahini, desperate civilians stopped their car, pleading for help. "What we saw is the definition of horror. Mortally wounded people, bodies lining up the road, gunfire coming from every direction. We disembarked and immediately returned fire. Then we saw a hand protruding from the trunk of a nearby car that was shot to hell and we saw two terrified girls, one of which wouldn't let go of me, screaming she and her husband managed to escape the [Nova music festival] in [Moshav] Re'im."
Hila Avraham, the woman in question, says, "We fled Re'im, me my husband Ilan and my friend. Terrorists captured Ilan, using him to lure out those who had locked themselves in houses in the moshav, after which they killed him. When I saw the Border Police officers, they were our guardian angels. If they hadn't arrived, I wouldn't have survived, just like my husband didn't."
After arranging the proper evacuation for Hila and her friends, Noa and her fellow Border Police cops took on the terrorists, standing between them and the moshav residents. During the firefight, Noa felt a sharp pain in her leg, and looking down, she saw blood gushing.
"We couldn't find a tourniquet, so I used a clean diaper instead," Noa says. "One of my friends evacuated me, and from there I was airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva."
Meanwhile, her sister Shira was still embroiled in the heat of combat in Sderot, less than 4 miles away from where her sister was fighting, after her unit was given orders to come and stem the tide of the Hamas onslaught.
"We've received reports of a terrorist cell driving a vehicle, headed south. As they arrived at our location, we were ready for them. Along with some regular police, we opened fire on their location, eliminating both of them," she says.
After two and a half hours of ceaseless fighting, she could feel something was off with her sister, even though they were fighting in two separate locations. "I sensed something was wrong with her," says Shira.
"I called her and she didn't pick up, but one of her squad mates did and told me she's been shot in the leg. We've been connected in more ways than one since we were born. When she got shot, I could feel the pain from the bullet. I immediately got to Soroka to see her."
Now, following a visit from the woman she saved, undergoing surgery, and still in rehabilitation, Noa remains resolute. "I will return to fight for the Border Police and take the squad commander course, and I'm definitely thinking about an officers training course as well," she says.