Only a few have had the chance to witness the extraordinary actions of the Caracal Battalion during their battle against Hamas terrorists.
Lt.-Col. Or Ben-Yehuda, the commander of this unit, now recounts her experiences in the southern Gaza Strip, where her battalion eliminated approximately 100 terrorists. She also has a clear message for those who question the capabilities of female fighters in the Caracal (Desert Lynx) and Tank Battalion.
As the assault on the Gaza border area began, Ben-Yehuda swiftly moved from the battalion headquarters in Nahal Raviv to a post on the Egyptian border with armored personnel carriers. Rockets were raining down, and warnings arrived regarding potential terrorist infiltration in the Shlomit and Bnei Netzer towns.
In the midst of this chaos, she received a message from Lt.-Col. Yonatan Tzur, the commander of the Nahal Brigade's patrol battalion, who was later tragically killed in an encounter with terrorists. He reported an infiltration near Sufa and Nirim, saying, "There are several terrorists there... They're heavily armed!"
Female IDF combat soldiers fight off Hamas terrorists
Ben-Yehuda summoned troops from the mixed-gender, infantry combat Caracal Battalion and made her intentions clear: "We are going out to eliminate terrorists. Infiltration into Israel is happening, and it's spreading. Stay alert. We might cross paths. We are a strong squad."
During the fast-paced journey, Ben-Yehuda began to understand the scale of the terrorist incidents in the region. Arriving at Sufa, she received a report from a sergeant from the guards at the entrance to the military base, indicating that terrorists were inside with at least three wounded.
Information revealed that the military post contained around 40 combat soldiers from the Nahal patrol, a mix of Nahal, mortar soldiers from the 50th battalion, other soldiers, military drivers operating in high-risk areas, and numerous terrorists. It was apparent that most of the combatants were in the dining room, armed with anti-tank missiles. It became clear that this was not a typical terrorist infiltration.
Approaching the base from all angles, they identified at least seven terrorists, and more from the nearby dirt embankment were starting to climb up. Suddenly, a convoy with almost 50 terrorists and snipers charged toward the squad of 12 at breakneck speed. They responded with gunfire. Terrorists were eliminated, and the others dispersed.
In a harrowing moment, a terrorist advanced on Ben-Yehuda at point-blank range, but her quick reaction saved her from harm.
Lt.-Col. A from the Magic Touch Squadron (190) arrived and identified the terrorists inside the base. He suggested taking action but Ben-Yehuda insisted on avoiding harm to the soldiers inside. Instead, bursts of fire were directed at the surrounding earthen embankments, killing terrorists and preventing further attacks on the squad.
For nearly four hours, terrorists attempted to outflank Ben-Yehuda and her team, engaging them in firefights. More vans arrived, but the Caracal Battalion commander effectively thwarted them. Additional Light Anti-Armor Weapon (LAW) missiles were launched, further eliminating terrorists: Some were killed, and others retreated.
Despite wounds to some of her soldiers, they persevered.
After hours of intense combat, soldiers from the Shayetet (flotilla) 13 Navy Special Forces unit arrived to clear the base of terrorists. Drones were launched to assist them. The firefights continued, and wounded soldiers were evacuated. They remained at the base for a total of 14 hours until it was fully secured.
Ben-Yehuda emphasized the significant contributions of the female soldiers under her command, who saved many lives through medical care and even daring helicopter landings under fire. Their remarkable performance under the extreme pressure of war highlighted their capabilities.
She also acknowledged the tank soldiers under her command, who played a vital role in defending towns and decisively impacting the battle in Holit, a kibbutz near the southwestern-most border of the Gaza Strip where at least 11 of its members were killed along with two migrant workers.
In total, her battalion eliminated around 100 terrorists. She hopes this serves as proof that there should be no more doubts about female combat soldiers. "Their training and performance on the battlefield have erased any doubts. They fought bravely, saved lives, and emerged as heroes," she said.
Ben-Yehuda also highlighted the dedication of the commanders who rushed from home to join the fight.
She concluded: "There are no more doubts about female combat soldiers, who have triumphed in every encounter with terrorists. At present, we are responsible for 11 towns and are preparing for any potential ground maneuvers to ensure the safety of the southern Gaza border area and the Egyptian border."
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