Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered reporters to refrain from publishing remarks made concerning female soldiers during a visit to an army drill in Israel's North on Tuesday.

The comments were made during a Golani Brigade drill, when, seemingly unaware that there were cameras in the vicinity, the two top officials – together with the commander of the Golani Brigade - joked about the issue of women serving in the army.

After Gantz noticed reporters from Army Radio and Channel 2, he turned to them and asked them not to report the conversation. Gantz told the Army Radio reporter to shelf the recording, and threatened the Channel 2 reporter that if the footage airs it would be his last piece.

Yet despite the army chief’s warnings, the video was released. In it, Barak asks: “Who are the girls here? From the battalion or the brigade? Or from the division?” Gantz replied: “They sing during the break. During the break they start to sing.”

Golani commander Ofek Buchris then said that “there is no problem for them to sing, solo, everything will be fine.” Barak said “there’s Dana from the minister’s communication here, she’s from a moshav, she can sing without uniform,” to which Buchris replied: “As long as she’s without uniform and with clothes it’s fine.”

At that point Gantz turned to an Army Radio reporter and said: “Army Radio, this does not come out. Even it’s the scoop of your lifetime. It’s stays in your tape recorder.” He then told a Channel 2 reporter that if he airs the tape “it will be the last piece. It would be a shame if would be the last piece. Like the last war. I promise you it would be the last piece.”

Women's singing has been but one example of rising tensions between IDF top brass and religious leaders. In October, following orders from IDF rabbis, female soldiers were asked to leave the central event and had to celebrate in a separate area during the traditional dancing that marks the end of the Simhat Torah holiday.

IDF Spokesman said in response that the statements “were said jokingly, in an open conversation and nothing more. We regret the interpretation given to them. The statement (about women singing) had to do with the excessive coverage of the issue. One should keep a light spirit and a sense of proportions concerning the statements.”

MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima ) said that “these statements reveal their real view on the loaded subject of women serving in the army.” MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) said: “It is a shame that the IDF chief of staff and the defense minister choose sexist jokes instead of fighting for real equality for female soldiers. MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) said that “the Torah absolutely respects woman, contrary to some who speak highly against segregation of women but in their hearts despise them.”

In her Facebook page, MK Miri Regev (Likud) wrote: “Their chauvinism pops up every time,” she wrote. “The footage of the defense minister and the chief of staff giggling about female soldiers is deplorable.” Regev called on the two to issue an apology.
 

Read this article in Hebrew: ברק וגנץ התבדחו על שירת נשים, וניסו למנוע פרסום