Latest update: August 8th, 2013
Speaking at the International Women’s Conference sponsored by Stand With Us, IDF Officer Lieutenant Colonel Shirly Subul, a resident of Tel Aviv, said she had the aspiration to serve Israel in the armed forces since age 4. She currently serves in the IDF combat fitness department, where she has personally transformed the Lifestyle Branch, which is responsible for army athletics and encouraging Israeli soldiers to live a healthy life-style, into one of the most influential branches in the IDF.
She was a professional athlete as a teenager but put her athletic dreams on hold in order to serve the State of Israel. In March of 1993 she served in the intelligence unit and continued on to officers training course. Later on she served in the foreign relations department of the intelligence department. During the Second Lebanon War, Lt. Subul’s best friend Anat was murdered in a suicide bombing and she spent five weeks in an underground bunker as the head of the operations division. Her army career took a different direction when she transferred to the combat fitness department. There Lieutenant Colonel Subul sought to combine her passion for serving Israel with her love of athletics and sports.
Lieutenant Colonel Subul places special emphasis on IDF commanders, believing that their physical condition has a great effect on the army as a whole. Subul is also known for whipping high ranking officers into better shape and has even put obese Israeli commanders on a six month program of diet combined with exercise. In order to keep Israeli soldiers in shape, she has organized four marathons and is planning a fifth. Subul also organizes swimming and bicycling sessions and has special programs for women.
Subul also has a BA in gender studies and sociology from Tel-Aviv University and was a pioneer in this field. As a female IDF officer, Lieutenant Colonel Subul emphasized that women serving in the IDF enjoy full gender equality, stating that 92 percent of the positions within the IDF are open to women, nearly 59 percent of Israeli women enlist to serve, representing 33 percent of the IDF’s manpower, and that the number of female IDF officers continues to rise. Israel is the only country in the world to have mandatory military service for women. “There are so many opportunities for women in the Israeli Defense Forces,” she claimed. Israeli women can be found in the artillery corps, armored divisions, infantry and intelligence units.
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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."
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