Defenders of the state of Israel, woman heroes in the line of fire

By Rolene Marks and Marc Kahlberg

When police in Israel’s southern community first started to receive calls from terrified residents in the kibbutzim and small communities that came under brutal attack by Hamas terrorists, Israel’s police responded as quickly and forcefully as they possibly could.

Israel’s valiant police defended as hard as they could with the limited firepower they had at the time – and many paid with their lives. Hamas murdered at least 58 police officers and women – and that number is expected to rise. Brave women joined their male counterparts, fighting with all their might to eliminate the enormous threat of Hamas.

As the days go on, we learn more details about that horrific day when Israeli civilians were murdered, tortured, raped and kidnapped in the most barbaric and depraved way. We are also starting to hear the stories of those that were first on site, the first responders of the Israel Police alongside local community security personal, who witnessed the carnage and fought it with all their might.

Israel is now at war against Hamas and the police are in the frontlines of not only classic policing, but also dealing with an existential daily terror threat.

Many police officers have been called up for reserve duty in the army. It is the women of the Israeli police that are our frontline of protection in our cities and communities across the country as most of their male counterparts move from protecting our cities and communities to protecting our borders.

Those that serve in the Israel Police represent a cross-section of Israeli society – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bedouin, Druze and are a mosaic of the diversity that is Israel.

These are a few of the Israel Police real life heroes;

Meet Israel’s Policewomen:

Major Moran Etedgi (Picture Credit: Israel Police International Spokespersons Unit)

Saturday morning 7 October 2023, a Jewish holiday celebrating happiness, “I woke up together with my family to the sound of the sirens indicating that we were yet again under rocket attack from the terrorists in Gaza. I quickly gathered my family and hurried downstairs to the protected and sheltered area. After a few minutes the alarms blared again, and then again and again and at this point, I understood something unusual was happening; I realized that the rockets being launched were far beyond that which we have grown accustomed to in such situations.”

Moran Tedgi, is a major and in charge of operations at the Aror police station in the Negev. She lives in Ofakim, and is the mother of two young children.

I received a report that there were dead and injured in the Aror community, a predominantly Bedouin community and began to give instructions to strengthen our station and alert off duty officers, after fully understanding that we were under attack by terrorists.

At the same time, I turned on the walkie-talkie and listened in on the Ofakim [a large city] police radio channel, and heard commanders and police officers reporting on various encounters with terrorists. I made an instinctive decision to put on my uniform to protect myself and go out. On my way, I picked up another police officer from my station and together we went to the scene.”

Arriving at the first scene:

we became aware that three police officers were murdered and many police officers were injured. The sight was one of immediate shock. The initial picture of the situation was four terrorists in a house with civilian hostages. As I took command, it was only a matter of seconds before we received a barrage of automatic weapons fire that included grenades and a RPG.

During this never-ending battle, an officer and a police officer were injured and were rescued under fire. We then faced a standoff – not uncommon in a hostage situation – until the arrival of our skilled tactical units.”

When the senior commander of the area arrived at the scene, “I briefed him of the situation while still under attack and returning fire , when suddenly an officer appears and reports that there are three terrorists in his friend’s house on the opposite street. I asked him to show me the photos he took on his cell phone.

The commander of the area asked me to take some police officers and take command of the situation. We approached very carefully until we understood fully which house it was.

I examined the area from all angles to understand where it was possible to counter attack until we became aware that the terrorists were hiding in the backyard of a house.

During this chaos and in the middle of a battle, I had to stop and call my children and tell them that I love them and that their mom is taking care of herself. We surrounded the house in the initial phase from two directions; we saw a body in the house lying lifeless through a hole in window.

In the initial phase, we managed to get some of the family members out safety.

I gathered strength and gave instructions to fire to try to draw out the terrorists that were hiding and waiting to surprise us. We opened up and the terrorists returned the fire wounding an officer. Then the terrorists threw a grenade which injured several more police officers. I was struck in the face by a  fragment of the grenade but I knew must keep calm, and I give a directive to retreat and reorganize.”

Constantly reporting on the dire situation:

  “I asked for help from our helicopter to size up the situation from above, relay photos, and to instruct residents not to leave their homes due to the security situation. I decided to enter again and this time we encircled the house completely.

The challenges were many, continues  Moran with, “constant terrorist fire, grenades, injured police officers, hostages, and logistics, trying to control the additional officers and now IDF soldiers that arrived, over 50 in total. It was imperative that we were all on the same page and to prevent friendly fire between the Police and IDF. My first thoughts were constantly Command and Control, even under fire.

Ordering the firing each time from a different direction, Moran had to scream “since we were barely able to talk on the walkie-talkie and not everyone had walkie-talkies. I also had to ensure I screamed the orders clearly. We then used grenades accompanied by aggressive firepower.”

During one of the firefights, “we shot two terrorists. Another officer was on the roof and started shouting at the last terrorist to surrender, who refused. After further confrontation, the terrorist became visible and I give instructions to shoot him.

Once we neutralised all the terrorists, our bomb squad sappers arrived and disabled several booby traps and other lethal devises designed to kill us. Then it was the job for the medical teams.”

The place now secure, Moran gathered her officers, reorganized and proceeded to the previous scene.

At this point, I assumed command of the entire city of Ofakim under the direction of the commander of the area. Together with other forces, we responded to dozens of events that happened throughout the city on what can only be described as a bloody Saturday.”

Attending a situation assessment together with the mayor and the commander of the IDF officer’s school, “we divided the city into combat and reaction sectors.”

Reflecting back starting from Saturday 7 October at 7.30 am when the war began, “I participated at the battles of Ofakim, and then continued until Tuesday 10 October and then went back to aid my police station. Certainly, the longest days of my life.”

Every day the brave officers of the Israel Police protect us on the home front. We owe these exceptional men and women a massive debt of gratitude. They would never ask for it or expect it, but they deserve it.

Major Hodaya Loyani

“The late Major Hagai Bibi told his soldiers before he fell in battle in the Kissufim area: “Some will call us fools, but I call it Zionism, giving and true love,” recalls Major Hodaya Loyani, Commander of Municipal Police, Jerusalem district municipal policing.

Major Hodaya Loyani. Commander of Municipal Police, Jerusalem distric municipal, Israel Police, (Picture Credit: Israel Police International Spokespersons Unit).

“In these complex and difficult days, the State of Israel and in particular the Israel Police, experienced a great disaster and lost some of the best of its sons and daughters.

The Israel Police officers, who responded first, directly into the line of fire, sacrificed their lives as heroes.

For the past 14 years, I have been privileged to wear the Israel Police uniform every day with pride and true love for the people of Israel and the State of Israel.

As a woman and as a commander in the urban policing unit in the Jerusalem district, I have the privilege to lead the police officers who do holy work.

The people of Israel have known quite a few wars and many battles, but have never been defeated, and this time too, we will win with God’s help.

We will stand at the front and be called to stand up for whatever it takes to protect the citizens of the country. We will maintain governance in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and in the country because the people are determined and not afraid of the difficult long road ahead.”

Inspector Sharon Cohen

For me, ever since I was recruited into the Border Guards,” says  23-years-old Sharon Cohen from Pardes Hana, “I had no doubt that I was going to stay a soldier until the end. I would do the officer’s course and, above all, advance in the core duties”.

                                            Inspector Sharon Cohen (Picture Credit: Israel Police International Spokespersons Unit)

Sharon enlisted in November 2018 and serves in a reserve unit of the tactical brigade team in a command position.

Following the war that befell us on 7 October, I realized that this was the moment for which I enlisted, for why I am an officer.

The sense of mission deeply embedded in me, even at times of great duress, did not leave me for a moment, saving the lives of residents in the State of Israel. All that I was trained for and taught since enlistment, as a soldier, served me well and allowed me to do my duty and save as many lives as I could.

More than ever, I am proud to belong and proud to serve. I am a defender of the State of Israel.”

About the writers:

Rolene Marks – Freelance Broadcast Journalist & Marc Kahlberg Israel Police (retired)

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).


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