2010-01-20

Israeli Women Soldiers

Uniquely among nations, Israel conscripts women and assigns some drafted women to infantry combatant service which places them directly in the line of enemy fire.. However, approximately one third of female conscripts (more than double the figure for men) are exempted, mainly for religious and nuptial reasons.
Following their active service, women, like men, have in theory to serve up to one month annually in reserve duty. However, in practice only some women in combat roles get called for active reserve, and only for a few years following their active service, with many exit points (e.g., pregnancy).
 


 

The unisex Caracal Battalion, established to serve in a full combat capacityApart from during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when manpower shortages saw many of them taking active part in battles on the ground, women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles. IDF commanders have historically considered the practice of assigning women to combatant duties to be immoral due to the heightened danger of sexual assault that female soldiers would face if captured by the enemy.



 

After a landmark 1994 appeal by Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, the Israeli High Court instructed the Israeli Air Force to open its pilots course to women. Miller failed the entrance exams, but since her initiative, many additional combat roles were opened for women. As of 2005, women are allowed to serve in 83% of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary for women.

 

 
 
 

The IDF abolished its "Women's Corps" command in 2001, believing that it had become an anachronism and a stumbling block towards integration of women in the army as regular soldiers with no special status. However, after pressures from feminist lobbies, the Chief of Staff was persuaded to keep an "adviser for women's affairs". Female soldiers now fall under the authority of individual units based on jobs and not on gender. The 2006 Lebanon War was the first time since 1948 that women were involved in field operations alongside men. Airborne helicopter engineer Sergeant-Major (res.) Keren Tendler became the first female combat soldier to be killed in action.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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