Photo Credit: Yoni Markovitzki / IDF Spokesperson / Flash 90
IDF soldiers training from the IDF Caracal battalion, made up of male and female combat soldiers, deployed along the Egyptian border.

The IDF has decided that female combat troops won’t enter Lebanon or Gaza. In fact, they won’t cross any border at all.

As a result, a number of elements in the physical training (bohan maslul) standards for female combat soldiers are being eliminated and revised. This decision has been attacked in some quarters by those who say all combat soldiers should be subject to the same training standards regardless of gender.


But in an interview with the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv newspaper, IDF Ground Forces Commander Maj.-Gen. Kobi Barak defended the decision to change the training standards for women.

Barak told journalist Ben Caspit that mixed-gender units won’t be used to fight wars across Israel’s borders. Rather, he said, mixed-gender battalions are intended for border protection.

“A mixed-gender battalion won’t need to storm a machine gun nest with heavy weapons, as a Golani or Givati soldier would need to do in Lebanon,” Barak said. “Light infantry battalions such as these need to focus only on their mission, something they do very well.”

Likewise, he said, a female tank crew would also be providing support for border engagement, if anything.

“These tanks may be required to fire a shell at the enemy from fixed positions, but that’s it. There are no enemy tank divisions invading us, and our training procedure . . . reflects that.”

The IDF launched a pilot program for 12 female soldiers to serve in the tank corps, with two females to one male in each tank. However, this past September it was announced that the experiment had failed, with two of the female recruits dropping out during basic training.

The IDF is now considering whether it is possible for an all-female crew to run a tank.

There are many conflicting views in Israel about the viability of female soldiers in combat roles.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.