Israeli Army to Start Interviewing Women for Combat Roles

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An archive photo of female IDF soldiers.
An archive photo of female IDF soldiers.Credit: Nir Kafri

In about two months’ time, the Israel Defense Forces will start screening women in their pre-draft interview to see if they are suitable for combat units. Until now, such interviews were held only for men.

The IDF’s manpower directorate decided to launch a pilot project in September that will include some 1,500 women whose medical profiles make them suitable for combat units. All the eligible women will also undergo interviews to see whether they are psychologically suited to combat service.

Brig. Gen. Merav Kirshner, who heads the brigade in charge of planning and personnel management, said the army is preparing to call up reservists who have been trained in the screening process so there will be enough interviewers to carry out the project.

Today, every man undergoes such an interview when he receives his first draft notice. The army then evaluates his suitability for combat service based on various criteria, which it has used for decades. In an interview with the investigative television program “Hamakor,” psychologist and Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman said the characteristics interviewers look for include punctiliousness, activism, adaptability, sociability, independence and motivation to do combat service.

Women, in contrast, are evaluated for combat service solely on the basis of factors like their army screening tests and their matriculation exam scores, without a personal interview.

The army wants to increase the number of women doing combat service and believes these interviews will also generate more interest for women to serve in combat. Last year, according to IDF data, more than 2,000 women entered combat units, and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot recently approved the creation of the army’s fourth mixed-gender combat battalion.

The pilot project is just one element of a broader effort to make the army’s screening process for draftees more egalitarian.

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