Those We Have Lost

Sgt. Osher Barzilay, 19: MDA volunteer planned to be a brain surgeon

Killed on October 7 when Hamas overran the Nahal Oz IDF outpost

Sgt. Osher Barzilay who was killed in Nahal Oz on October 7, 2023. (MDA)
Sgt. Osher Barzilay who was killed in Nahal Oz on October 7, 2023. (MDA)

Sgt. Osher Simha Barzilay, 19, a soldier in the Gaza Division, from Mazkeret Batya, was killed on October 7 when Hamas overran the Nahal Oz IDF outpost.

Her sister, Yarden Carmeli, told At magazine that she last heard from her sister, who was holed up in the IDF war room, at 10:23 a.m., when she texted her: “Pray for me.” A week later, they were informed that she had been killed and her remains identified.

She is survived by her parents, Lior and Tikva, her five siblings, Sapir, Eden, Yarin, Yarden and Chen, and her boyfriend Ori Asaf. She was buried in her hometown on October 15.

She was remembered for being a talented guitar and piano player and excelling in all of her studies, particularly science subjects, and that she dreamed of one day becoming a brain surgeon.

She took part in the very selective national neuroscience program at the Davidson Institute of Science Education, where motivated students study the brain: “Even among this very unique group of talented students, Osher stood out as one of the most impressive pupils,” her 12th grade teacher, Noa Pinsker-Zeharia, told Ynet. “She charmed us not only with her curiosity, intelligence and original thinking, but first and foremost with her empathy and kindness which she spread to all those around her — students and teachers alike.”

Barzilay was also a volunteer with the Magen David Adom ambulance service in the Rehovot station, which she started at 2019 when she was just 15, rising up through the ranks and taking many courses to add further skills.

“She is as her name suggests – Osher was filled with joy, always happy and with a smile, would be the first to help and assist when required, and made certain to join a shift every week and volunteer on the ambulance or MICU,” said Hila Pilosof, an MDA paramedic and youth volunteer manager at the Rehovot station. “She was a wonderful volunteer with an enchanting personality, who dreamed that she would grow to be a doctor and continue to save lives. May her memory be blessed.”

Her father, Lior, told the Kan public broadcaster that Osher was born to him and his wife in their second marriage, after they each came with two children from their first marriages, “and she was what brought all of us together… we called her Osher [happiness], because she brought happiness.” She was an exceptional student, he said, and amid all of her many activities she also tutored many of her fellow students.

“She used her time to the max,” he said. “When I look at this girl [who was killed] at just 19 and four months, I see that she crammed 50 years into it.”

Her sister Yarden said that “my little sister, my whole world, I have a hole in my heart in the shape of you.”

“You were the most beautiful, the most well-groomed, the most glamorous… when I was in my darkest place, we spent five days together Greece and you didn’t let me down for a moment. On that Sunday [October 8], at noon, I wrote to my friends that if something happens to Osher, I don’t want to stay alive.”

On what would have been their fourth anniversary, her boyfriend, Ori Asaf, wrote on Instagram that “life stopped at that one black moment where I finished fighting and after a week that I was disconnected, they took me aside to tell me the news. That moment that my life stopped forever, that moment the skies fell on me, my heart shattered to pieces and every organ in my body crashed.”

“I got to be in a relationship with my soulmate, my best friend, my other half, for years our souls were intertwined and become one big soul,” he wrote. “You taught me to love, you taught me to be a person, you made me who I am today… all the time you told me that you wanted to get married young, that you wanted a cool wedding with young people, and me? I wanted to marry you so much, I kept praying that this week would end and I would return to your loving arms and I would get on one knee and propose.”

Ori wrote that “we had planned already our lives 80 years ahead, because it was clear to us that it wasn’t going anywhere, that we weren’t able to be apart… I’ll always remain your little Or [light], with a broken heart, but full of pride.”

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