JERUSALEM Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Israeli army on Tuesday awarded a merit citation to a soldier who placed herself in the line of fire on the Egyptian border to protect her squad and comfort a dying soldier, local newspaper reported.
The 19-year-old girl, known only as "S," was a sniper when she took part in a firefight on Sept. 21 at Har Harif, a mountainous desert region about midway between the Gaza Strip and the Red Sea port city of Eilat.
A soldier in the mixed-gender Caracal infantry battalion established eight years ago, "S" was on a routine jeep patrol in the vicinity when an armed band of militants from the Sinai opened fire on Israeli troops.
The ambush took place as the soldiers provided water and medical care to a group of African infiltrators who were stranded along an uncompleted segment of the border fence being constructed in the area.
"All of a sudden, we heard on the two-way radio a female soldier screaming, 'We're being shot at.' I told the driver, 'Get over there as quickly as possible,'" "S" was quoted as telling friends hours after the battle.
At the scene of the attack, "S" jumped out of the Hummer and ran to cover an Armored Corps soldier who was fatally wounded seconds before, urging her colleagues to join the fight.
"It was clear to me that we were facing mortal danger... while the shots were ringing out, I began to understand what was happening, where we were and the direction from which we were being fired at," "S" recounted.
She then charged forward, aimed through her assault rifle's telescopic sight and opened fire. One of the rounds detonated a militant's explosive belt, killing him on the spot.
"He exploded near us, right in our faces, and parts of him flew in every direction," she recounted.
Her buddies, just meters away, killed another assailant.
When the crackle of gunfire ended, "S" and others rushed over to Yahalomi, and stayed with him until help arrived.
In Tuesday's emotional ceremony, the corporal exchanged salutes with an army commander who pinned the Command Chief Citation ribbon on her uniform.
"S" is the twentieth woman to receive a decoration for action since 1955, according to army statistics.