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Women warriors: a look at the all-female IDF combat battalions
After male religious soldiers protested serving side by side with women, female religious combat soldiers decided to lay down the law, and so a unit composed entirely of female soldiers was opened in the Lavi Battalion; 'We did not plan this,' says a senior officer. 'The demand came from the women.'

The dramatic increase in the number of religious women enlisting in the IDF led to a precedent among the army's combat units: for the first time, a unit exclusively made up of religious young women was opened.

 

 

Those in the unit had initially signed up for a mixed battalion for boys and girls. The IDF has four combat battalions in which male and female combat soldiers serve together: the Caracal Battalion, which operates along the Egyptian border; the Bardelas (or Cheetah) Battalion and the Jordanian Lions, which operating along the Jordanian border; and as of March, a fourth battalion called Lavi HaBik'a, which operates in the southern Jordan Valley.

 

Female combat fighters
Female combat fighters

 

In the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, which include all four battalions, had gatehred over the last year several appeals by women combat solders asking for an all-female battalion to be founded. As previously reported in Yedioth Ahronoth, Combat Intelligence Collection Corps Brig. Gen. Mordechai Kahane was the one who looked into the matter.

 

Last March, a group of eight religious young women who took part in the pre-enlistment phase of the Lavi Battalion, which was then still forming, asked to be drafted into a separate department exclusively for women. After several discussions, the IDF decided to accept their request. As soon as the permit was received, several other women who requested to serve sans men joined and were accepted. "The truth is that we did not plan to open such a division," said a senior officer in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps. "There was a demand from a few religious young women who wanted to serve without men in one of the battalion's units."

 

All mixed-gender battalions have a 70-to-30 percent male-to-female ratio. According to the senior officer, the increased demand by young men to serve in the mixed-gender battalions continues, and in March, another record demand for serving in these battalions was broken, with 320 young men competing for 164 availabe spots. 

 

He explained the increase by young men's desire to serve in combat units that are nevertheless less physically demanding than infantry units in the Golani and Paratroopers brigades.

 

"Until last summer, young men only wanted to be acceptred to Karakal, but now there is a demand to reach the rest of the battalions, as well," he stated.

 

Despite various claims, religious men also try out for the mixed-gender battalions, and the Lavi Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Nir being a graduate of the Eli Paramilitary program. 

 

Thesenior officer speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth believes that there is still a ways to go in order to give all combat soldiers respectful army service conditions. 

 

During a patrol conducted by Brig. Gen. Kahane, he discovered that one of the battalions had set up joint sleeping quarters for men and woemn, contrary to the IDF orders. He immediately ordered a complete separation between women and men. In addition, the IDF decided to invest several tens of millions of shekels to create separate infrastructures that complies with the same Joint Service Ordinance.

 


First published: 20.05.17, 15:46
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