VIDEO - The emergency call-ups received by many Israeli citizens did not skip over hundreds of women who have been called up to the war in the north. In the past four years, the IDF has started integrating women into the reserves. In the current war, there are women manning positions such as anti-aircraft officers, rescue officers, fighters in gunner units, snipers, and the list continues.
Of all the women called up for duty in these days, about half are in combat battalions – 14 percent are fighters, 21 percent are medics, 11 percent are combat officers, and the rest are in intelligence. On the northern border, a writer for Ynet met Anat Bershkovsky and Efrat Kaufman, a non-commissioned officer in a mortar unit that is shooting at Lebanon. The two started their reserve duty as instructors for reserve soldiers on a training base, but very quickly found themselves on the Lebanese border shooting mortars at Lebanon.
Bershkovsky tells of the sharp transition from training to the battlefield: "We find ourselves driving north, and more north, and more north, almost to the end, and shooting – shooting into Lebanon and participating in the fighting. Throughout my entire army service I never thought I would be shooting at Lebanon."
The reservists say that their participation in the fighting was at first received with chuckles by their male colleagues, but they quickly earned their respect. Kaufman recounts that their first days on the border were accompanied by many sexist comments: "At first they asked us degradingly – oh, you're reservists? When did you get released, a year ago? And then when they heard we are both 26 years old they started saying – what, you're not married? You don't have kids? What are you waiting for?"
Women reservists on duty. "Without them we wouldn't know what we're doing" (Photo: Shai Camarini)
"The moment they hear we are six and a half years after the army, they appreciate us a little more. We are here to give our professional emphasis and they know they need it. They ask for help and also know to say thank you," she said. Bershkovsky explains that the reservists understand that the women and the men are in the same situation: "They know that they also suddenly extracted us from our normal lives and that we are here to help in the fighting exactly as they are."
One of the reservists, Nimrod Ratner, praises the women's participation in the war effort: "Six years we haven't trained. We don't remember how to operate these mortars. Sure we were professionals once and we did it in our army service, but if they weren't here, some of us wouldn't know what to do."
"I'll get up and go even if I'm in the middle of a manicure"
Beyond their professional capabilities, Ratner comes out with additional benefits to have the girls in the field: "When you finish training all sweaty and sandy and out of nowhere they offer you a moist towel, what could be better than that? Only for that it's worth it to enlist women into the army."
Last weekend Bershkovsky and Kaufman spent the last weekend at home – Sunday they return to the border. They are definitely thankful for the short rest at home: "On one hand, all the corniness of 'a mission, people rely on me,' but on the other hand, I want a bath! In some moments I ask myself what I'm doing here, and what is all this black under my fingernails. But I think as soon as the guys call me asking me to come back, I will get up and go even if I'm in the middle of a manicure," says Kaufman.
Bershkovsky also fantasizes about an indulgent beauty treatment – but only after the war: "I have no problem being here for however long they need me. It's a good feeling knowing that you are taking part of something important, that you are doing something for the good of the fighting, contributing. Whenever they need me, I am at their beck and call. Afterwards, I will do a thorough treatment and will return to being a woman."