IDF’s Highest-ranking Female Officer Retires

Army will still be left with four female brigadier generals after Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai leaves

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Incoming head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Hagai Topolanski receives the rank of major general at a ceremony on Monday.
Incoming head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Hagai Topolanski receives the rank of major general at a ceremony on Monday.Credit: IDF
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The highest-ranking female officer in the Israel Defense Forces is ending her three-year stint as head of the army’s personnel directorate on Tuesday and retiring from the army, leaving the IDF without a female major general in the General Staff.

Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai will be succeeded in her post by Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky, a fighter pilot in the Israel Air Force. Major general is the highest rank possible below the chief of staff, a lieutenant general.

The army will still be left with four female brigadier generals, one rank lower than major general.

Two of those women are in Barbivai’s directorate: Brig. Gen. Merav Kirshner, who heads the manpower planning and administration division in the personnel directorate, and Michal Ben-Muvhar, who heads its staffing department. The other two are Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil, the chief military censor, and Brig. Gen. Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, the women’s affairs adviser to IDF chief Benny Gantz.

Barbivai set several precedents during her military service. In addition to becoming the first major general, she was also the first female officer to serve as an adjutant in an IDF command and the first to head a corps other than the Women’s Corps, which was dismantled in 2001.

According to figures released by the IDF in 2012, women constituted 34 percent of all military conscripts but 51 percent of serving military officers.

Nevertheless, the proportion of women officers has been falling steadily. Data from this year show women making up 27 percent of standing army officers. Although in recent years there has been an increase of high-ranking female officers, a large gap remains. Only 18 percent of those ranked lieutenant colonel and up are women, and just 5 percent of those ranked colonel and above are women.

Orna Barbivai.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott