The IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated that the comments exchanged between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz during Barak's tour of the northern sector,"Were said jokingly and the interpretation added to them contradicts the chief of staff's world view and his proven acts to promote women in the IDF."
The two joked around about female IDF soldiers amid a heightened public debate surrounding the right of women to sing in the presence of religious male soldiers.
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"The chief of staff apologizes to whomever was offended by his comments," the statement read.
Earlier on Tuesday, Members of Knesset and women's rights groups denounced the comments. MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) said she felt embarrassed for the two senior officials, adding that they exhibited the "characteristics of senior security officials in the 1950s."
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also slammed the remarks, saying: "The hypocrisy of the heads of the security establishment, who use pompous words when speaking publicly about the place of women in society, but degrade women in a macho conversation that reflects their inner moral system.
Hotovely added that "this type of sexist talk should be denounced, especially in the military, where it still exists in abundance."
'Sexist talk should be denounced' (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
"The sexist and chauvinist expressions of the chief of staff and defense minister expose their true opinions on a highly controversial topic of female recruitment in the IDF," noted MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima).
Women's rights organizations also expressed concern over the comments: "While we can appreciate the chief of staff and defense minister's humor, we still think it's about time to stop making jokes on the expulsion of women from the public sphere," said Galit Deshe, director of the Israel Women's Network.
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