Under fire in Gaza, hero paramedic saved life of tank crew member

When tank in front of her was hit by a rocket, Yuval Hizkiya gave first aid and fired at terrorists, keeping wounded soldier conscious long enough to get him to a hospital

Yuval Hizkiya, a paramedic who saved a life under fire, in a Channel 12 report broadcast January 20, 2024. (Screen capture: Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Yuval Hizkiya, a paramedic who saved a life under fire, in a Channel 12 report broadcast January 20, 2024. (Screen capture: Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In a heroic show of resolve, an off-duty paramedic saved the life of a crew member in the tank convoy in which she was leaving the Gaza Strip, while fearlessly helping to fend off the terrorists who had fired at the tank, according to a Saturday night report.

On December 13, paramedic Yuval Hizkiya, who had been assigned to a reservists’ tank company in the 401 armored brigade, was on her way out of Gaza to attend the funeral of her cousin Cpt. Liel Hayo, who had been killed in Shajaiya the day before.

Hizkiya, who finished her paramedic training shortly before the war began, left most of her medical equipment behind and got into a tank in a convoy from another battalion that was leaving Gaza.

The column was rolling toward Israel when the tank in front of Hizkiya’s was hit by an anti-tank missile, killing Elisha Loewenstern, the gunner, and seriously injuring Shachar Shiloni, the loader. The tank commander, Cpt. Tom Tzafrir, was hurt by shrapnel.

The paramedic immediately rushed out of her tank and tended to the injured loader, who had lost a leg. Struggling to keep him conscious as he lost massive amounts of blood, she took him behind a wall and applied a tourniquet to his wounds while shooting at approaching terrorists. On the other side of the wall, a fierce battle raged.

“It was like a movie — shouts and a machine gun starting to cover [for us]. I realize that we are in a very exposed area, and send someone to cover for us, and occasionally even go out myself to shoot,” Hizkiya told Channel 12. “All my magazines were emptied.”

Meanwhile, there was no rescue squad in sight. Hizkiya ordered Tzafrir, the tank commander, to keep Shiloni conscious, as she rushed to check the progress of their evacuation. “She ran to the signaler to see why the rescue was tarrying, and began barking at everyone to get moving,” Shiloni told Channel 12.

Cpt. Tom Tzafrir (L) and Shachar Shiloni (R), who were injured when their tank was hit by an anti-tank missile, in an interview to Channel 12 broadcast Januray 20, 2024 (Screen capture: Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Tzafrir ordered Shiloni to sing. “He’s a walking radio,” Tzafrir later told Channel 12, “always singing.” This would help Shiloni to stay conscious. By now, it had begun to rain.

Looking up, Shiloni began singing the song “Heavy Rain” by Israeli rock group Monica Sex. Soon, their entire unit was singing with them.

Within some 40 minutes, a 669 rescue team arrived on the scene and escorted Hizkiya and Shiloni to a helicopter. The doctor on board was unsure the wounded soldier would survive, given how much blood he had lost.

Shiloni remained unconscious for three days before waking up. Now he is in rehab, and told Channel 12 that he can walk, and even jump, on his remaining leg. Hizkiya, the paramedic who saved his life, makes sure to visit him whenever she leaves Gaza.

Israel’s war with Hamas began with the Palestinian terror organization’s brutal October 7 onslaught, which saw thousands of terrorists pour over the border, kill nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take over 240 hostages, including young children and elderly, while committing multiple atrocities and weaponizing sexual violence on a mass scale. The ground operation in the Gaza Strip has so far claimed the lives of 195 Israeli soldiers.

The war has seen a massive uptick in female conscripts to combat units, and unprecedented engagement of women in active combat. In one notable instance, an all-female tank company, established in 2020, chased down dozens of terrorists during the October 7 rampage. However, the dearth of women in decision-making forums, and the apparent disregard toward warnings voiced by female soldiers ahead of the onslaught, have aroused considerable public anger.

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