Israeli Army Rebuffs Hostility to Women in Combat Roles, Citing Experience

Rabbis and retired senior officers are criticizing the military as it examines the possibility of opening up more positions for women, this time in the armored corps.

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Female soldiers from the mixed-gender infantry battalion train in northern Israel, September 13, 2016.
Female soldiers from the mixed-gender infantry battalion train in northern Israel, September 13, 2016.Credit: Jack Guez, AFP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The official spokesman of the Israeli army took to his Facebook page on Monday to respond to rabbis and retired senior officers who have come out against plans to allow women to serve in Armored Corps combat units.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said that opening up more positions to female soldiers had proved itself in the past.

Last week Haaretz reported that the army was reexamining the possibility of allowing women to serve in combat positions in units of the Armored Corps, including in tank crews. A former commander of the Ground Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal, on Sunday called the measure “scandalous, led by someone wishing to weaken the IDF.”

On his Facebook page, Almoz wrote that “the IDF is the people’s army, and women are part of this nation.” Quoting a biblical verse, he said that “women wished to contribute, with high motivation and a willingness to devote themselves to the country’s security.” The spokesman added that the army had opened many positions to women in recent years and that this had proven to be the right move, allowing the army to fully benefit from its draftees, without hurting anyone’s feelings or damaging the army’s combat ethos.

The army plans to open a fourth mixed-gender battalion next year. Almoz said that this would be done responsibly, while respecting everyone’s sensitivities. Female soldiers would be incorporated into tank units only for routine security missions at first, after which the move would be reevaluated. Female instructors are already familiar with all the operational roles in the army’s tanks, Almoz added.

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