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Indianapolis teen living in Israel shares her story

Indianapolis teen living in Israel shares her story

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — 16-year-old Sophia Maurer is a student at a private high school in Israel. Hours before Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Maurer stood just yards from the Gaza-Israeli border.

“There was something in the air that day that just didn’t feel right, and there were so many times I felt very uneasy, very unsure of what was going on,” said Maurer.

Maurer returned to her school further inland that night and slept through the warning sirens. When a friend woke her up, she had 35 texts on her phone from concerned family and friends.

“My friend, who was on the couch, just woke up, and they were talking about how terrorists just infiltrated the border communities and Tel Aviv is getting bombed,” said Maurer.

Although Maurer and her friends were far enough inland from Gaza that they were not attacked by the terrorists, one of her close friends wasn’t as fortunate. Ofir Libstein, the mayor of the border town of Sha’ar Hanegev, was killed in his home by the terrorists.

“Ofir was an amazing person,” Maurer said. “He was someone I looked up to. He was someone who I strove to be.”

Ofir traveled to Indianapolis and met with Governor Holcomb in August 2023 on a trade mission. Maurer said Ofir was an advocate for peace between Gazans and Israelis.

“I remember when he stood on the hill and he pointed to an empty space of land and said, “One day, I have a dream Gazans and Israelis will work together,” said Maurer.

Maurer was able to carry out her studies during the height of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas, and she said she feels safe living there.

“The people of Israel are really strong,” Maurer said. “Israelis are really strong. The soldiers who are fighting in Israel, A lot of them are 18, and they are doing everything they can to help the country.”

After briefly returning to Indianapolis in December, Maurer went back to Israel and said she will finish out the school year there.