Those We Have Lost

Sgt. Yael Leibushor, 20: Nature lover dreamed of hiking Israel Trail

Killed when Hamas terrorists overran the IDF Nahal Oz base on October 7

Sgt. Yael Leibushor who was killed in Nahal Oz on October 7, 2023. (IDF)
Sgt. Yael Leibushor who was killed in Nahal Oz on October 7, 2023. (IDF)

Sgt. Yael Leibushor, 20, an observation soldier in the Border Defense Corps’s 414th unit, from Ge’a, was killed when Hamas terrorists overran the IDF Nahal Oz base on October 7.

Her family said that she was on duty when the Hamas onslaught began, and calmly reported on the cross-border activity to her superiors, directed troops where to go and alerted the local security teams of the kibbutz under her purview. She continued to operate until Hamas terrorists threw grenades inside the base’s war room, her family said.

She is survived by her parents, Gili and Hagai, and her brother Ido and sister Tamar. She was buried on October 12 in her hometown.

Her family said that before she began her IDF duty, she did a year of national service at an environmental protection agency in Mitzpe Ramon, and had a deep love of the desert. She also loved to embroider, and would embroider things for her friends on base.

To mark what would have been her 21st birthday on December 16, her family asked loved ones to celebrate by sending photos of “21” made in nature, in the desert, in fruits and vegetables or flowers.

Her great aunt, Ayala Iluz, wrote on Facebook that Yael was “a beautiful girl, who loved nature and the desert, was responsible and excellent, moral and good-hearted.”

After her army service, Iluz wrote, she “wanted to work in protecting the nests of sea turtles… and her dream was to hike the Israel Trail. Yaeli was killed as she lived — full of dedication and responsibility for her job, watching and observing, staying put until the very end. Amid the great sadness, we must continue her path, to make sure that the inspiration she gave us, in her behavior, in her love of people, nature and the land, will be completely fulfilled.”

Her mother, Gili Leibushor, told the Kan public broadcaster that her daughter was a “young and wonderful woman” who “loved to embroider — if you see a soldier with embroidery on their belt — he’s a friend of Yael’s.”

She said Yael wanted to study biomimicry — “which is a field which looks at the genius of nature and how humanity can use it” — and that the family has vowed to hike the Israel Trail in her memory, fulfilling one of her wishes.

On Instagram, her mother wrote that as a young child Yael was full of innocence, “but also when you grew up, when there was a less innocent reality, you believed in good and you did good. You believed that people are naturally good — the truth is that the world smiled at you and you smiled back.”

“At the base of your beliefs about the world was the knowledge that it was OK to want, to hope, it was OK to wish — the cynicism of life these days did not stop you from believing in the power of hope.”

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