Women's Groups Seek to Weaken Israeli Army, Retired General Says

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal calls to keep women out of the tank corps.

A tank exercise in the Negev, southern Israel, June, 2016.
Ilan Assayag

A retired Israeli general said Sunday that women’s groups were behind the efforts to allow female soldiers into combat service in the Armored Corps and were doing so to weaken the army.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal, a former ground forces chief at the GOC Army Headquarters, told Army Radio that the idea of putting women in tanks was a “scandal that will harm anything you can think of including the IDF’s capabilities.”

Ron-Tal, now the chairman of the Israel Electric Corporation, said the next move would be to increase women’s combat presence in infantry units and the paratrooper brigade. He made his remarks even though the Israel Defense Forces itself says it’s behind the initiative to have women serve as combat soldiers in tank units.

Ron-Tal said he believed that left-wing groups in general were in on the efforts.

“I think that these interest groups are using this process a seemingly democratic and very important step that creates more fighters in the IDF to weaken the capabilities of our military,” he said.

Ofer Vaknin

Brig. Gen. Eran Shani, a senior officer at the Manpower Directorate, presented the idea to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week as part of an IDF plan to open a wide range of positions to women.

Another senior officer in the Manpower Directorate said Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was serious about the plan. If women can go into tanks all over the world, it can happen in Israel too, he said.

But a number of rabbis have warned about the alleged repercussions of increasing the number of women combat soldiers. And the Kipa website featured the headline: “The IDF must decide who it wants in the tank: members of the Religious Zionist movement or female combat soldiers.”

Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, the head of the nonprofit organization Tzav 1 that works with religious soldiers, has called the change an attempt to exclude religious people from the army. Some religious men refuse to serve alongside women.

Eliyahu was speaking to Arutz Sheva, a religious Zionist media group.