Orna Barbivai was officially promoted to the rank of major-general on Thursday morning at a ceremony at the IDH headquarters in Tel Aviv. She is the first woman in the history of the IDF to receive the honor.
Barbivai said that her appointment "is a clear statement of equal opportunity."
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In a second ceremony that took place Later Thursday at the Bahad 1 base, the outgoing head of the IDF's Personnel Directorate, Major-General Avi Zamir, handed over the command over the division to Barbivai.
"I am sure that the division is being entrusted in the best possible hands," said Zamir, who has served in the army for 35 years.
"I am proud to be the first woman to be promoted to the rank of major general, and proud to belong to an establishment where equality is a central pillar," Barbivai said during the second ceremony.
"The long way that we have come in recent years – opening 90% of IDF positions to women and granting women equal opportunity to serve in any position – is evident everywhere. I know that many other female officers serve in the IDF, who are qualified and talented and are likely to break boundaries."
Orna Barbivai receives ranks (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
'Our duty to lead social change'
Barbivai promised to preserve the equality in IDF recruitment. "We make up the melting pot of the Israeli society, and are working towards expanding the enlistment duty to the different sectors. It is our duty to lead social issues and processes that will allow us to be an integrated army in a democratic state, and everything that it entails."
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz praised Barbivai, saying that she received the appointment for her "successful performance and her professional talents… not out of charity."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the promotion is "an exciting moment for the Israeli society as a whole."
"The arrival of a woman to the general staff, due to her talent and ability, is important and symbolic," Barak added.
"I am sure you will know to separate between the need to do your job – like every major general on the general staff – and the fact that you, whether you wanted it or not, have turned into a symbol and an object of admiration for several parts of the Israeli society's better half."
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