Ministry of Defense: Do not increase the number of combat soldiers

Etti Aflallo, Calcalist, April 24th, 2019

CEO: Udi Adam, IAI's General Manager: Nimrod Sheffer; Rafael CEO: Yoav Har Even

"The Ministry of Defense's gender monitoring focuses on the IDF," explains attorney Miriam Zalkind of the Israel Women's Network (IWN). "The structure of the army and its conception as the army of the people, and the obligation to enlist incumbent upon every Jewish citizens of the state, turned the IDF into a space in which Israel is shaped. In recent years, the IDF and its leaders have been exerting considerable efforts to open up a variety of roles for women, and the handling of the issue of sexual harassment has been admirable.

On the other hand, there are problematic phenomena, such as soldiers who turned their backs on a female parachuting instructor. We must lead an uncompromising front against any exclusion or separation in the IDF. "

In all of the security bodies, the proportion of men is significantly higher than that of women. In the IDF, women comprise 35% of the regular force and 18% in the Ministry of Defense. The rate of women enlisting in the IDF is 58%, compared to 77% among men. The reason for the gap is the exemption given to women on the basis of religion.

There are many positions that are still blocked to women, including the fact that they are not allowed to serve in non-mixed combat units, but in recent years there has been a significant increase in their recruitment to combat units. In 2017 about 2,700 women enlisted in combat units, an increase of nearly 500% within five years (from 547 in 2012). Between 2016 and 2017, there was also a 30% increase in the number of young women enlisting in combat service.

In 2017, the mixed battalion "Lavi HaBeka'a" was established. A pilot of women's teams in the Armored Corps began training as part of the first tank battalion, and there was an increase in the percentage of women in the artillery corps. In 2018, a woman was appointed for the first time as a squadron commander, and another for the position of commander of an operational squadron. In 2019, the absorption of women in protective (naval) ships began.

At the same time, efforts have been made to increase the presence of women in the IDF's technical system, where women are still a minority. Since 2010, the proportion of women in technical positions has increased by 50%. As of 2017, 2,778 women are employed. In the Intelligence Corps and the Military Advocate General's Office, women serve at similar rates to their male counterparts. In recent years, there has also been an increase in the number of religious Zionist young women enlisting in the IDF, and in 2017 approximately 2,700 enlisted. That’s an increase of 190% from 2010, when 935 religious young women enlisted.

Despite this great progress, recently there has been a regression. In 2017, the IDF reported that it wanted to freeze the current situation and not increase the number of female combat soldiers, in order to reevaluate the impact of service on women. "The decision not to include women fighting in tanks, despite the fact that women have already been trained for the job and the pilot for integration has been successful, is an outrageous decision that involves political considerations and undermines the status of women in the IDF," says Salkind.

The IWN recommends continuing to implement the Segev Committee's 2011 report, whose implementation has been frozen, and that the model, based on enlistment by gender, is "archaic and causes the extraction of resources and contribution to the IDF of only half of Israeli society." Furthermore, the IWN recommended the inclusion of the principle, "the right person in the right place:" providing equal opportunity for women to participate in all roles and positions, the establishment of identical standards for women and men in combat roles, the promotion of women's advancement on a regular basis, and the anchoring of quantitative goals. Equality between the sexes is paramount.