Barbara Sofer

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Barbara Sofer

Award-winning writer and lecturer Barbara Sofer grew up in a small town in Connecticut, and moved to Israel in 1971. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her articles -taking on a wide range of subjects from ethnic cooking to terrorism--have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Parents, Readers' Digest, Woman's Day, Hadassah Magazine and Inside Magazine among many others. She writes a bi-weekly column for the Friday Jerusalem Post.

Barbara has written five books and contributed to several others


Jerusalem Post

The Human Spirit: The woman in the Puma  

By Barbara Sofer

There is a small group of exceptional females that are being counted on to keep our soldiers alive from injury on the battlefield to the hospital. A friend pointed out an article in the Hebrew press about women paramedics serving in combat units inside Gaza.

And what do you know, I happened to be sitting next to just such a woman at a luncheon at medical conference in Jerusalem. And at the entrance to the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah University Medical Center, in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, where a terror victim and a wounded medic were both being treated, I met a petite young woman named Yuval. She was there to visit the wounded soldier.

“He’s my best friend,” she said. “We served together in Gaza.”

Yuval is one of the paramedics who went into the Gaza Strip as part of the IDF ground forces of Operation Protective Edge against Hamas.

Who knew there were women serving in Gaza? As a first sergeant in the tank corps, she entered the Strip inside an armored vehicle called a “Puma” (from the Hebrew for “obstacle remover”). It’s a heavily armored combination personnel carrier and combat engineering vehicle.

It looks like a tank, and indeed the hull is a modified British Centurion (which has enraged certain British critics).

Pumas carry Carpet mine-clearing systems and electronic equipment for detonating roadside bombs and jamming detonation signals.

An average Puma weighs 50,000 kg. Yuval weighs 45 kg. Her backpack weighs nearly as much.

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