Smotrich bashed for speaking out against mixed IDF units

Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon responded that, "the IDF women’s service... contributes to Israel’s security. No Smotrich would stop or restrict... women’s integration into the IDF."

Netanyahu and Smotrich (photo credit: EITAN POLD/WIKIMEDIA,REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Smotrich
“Mixed units are a detriment to the IDF’s operations, its competence and its ability to fulfill its tasks,” Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Wednesday in an interview with Army Radio.
“My expectation from the IDF is not to try to promote an agenda,” Smotrich added, responding to an IDF report revealed by Army Radio showing that in the past year, there has been an increase in the number of abortions among female soldiers, which cost the military approximately NIS 5 million.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to counter Smotrich’s words in a video on his Twitter page, where he claimed that “IDF women’s service does not compromise Israel’s security – it contributes to Israeli security.”
“I am proud of our female soldiers and fighters who contribute to the security of Israel. Only last week they helped thwart a murderous attack from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said, relating to an incident on Saturday night when three armed Palestinians were killed by IDF troops as they tried to cross into southern Israel from Beit Hanun, shortly after three rockets were launched into southern Israel.
Smotrich then decided to shoot back at Netanyahu.
“The female soldiers’ work [during the infiltration attempt from Gaza] was great and life-saving: There is no debate about that,” he said. “What is the connection between that and the mixed units that I talked about?”
Smotrich also related to his original statement, which was in response to the abortion report, and added a pun on the Hebrew word for abortion, which also means “dropping,” saying that: “I am very much in favor of ‘droppings’ – of buildings in Gaza.”
According to IDF rules, female and male soldiers cannot come into contact with each other, as long as they are on base or in uniform, the only exception being during a military operation. Soldiers are also not permitted to enter dormitories of the opposite sex.
MK Moshe Ya’alon (Blue and White) also responded on Twitter, by saying that: “For those who have not yet understood who Netanyahu’s ‘natural’ partners in the ‘immunity’ government are, Smotrich comes and demonstrates what is ignorance. As the former minister of defense and IDF chief of staff, I state that the IDF women’s service is essential, valuable and contributes to Israel’s security. No Smotrich would stop or restrict the process of women’s integration into the IDF.”
“Minister Smotrich’s assault on IDF women is intolerable and crosses the line,” said Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman in response to Smotrich’s remarks. “The prime minister, instead of posting videos, should immediately hurl Smotrich out of the Security Cabinet.”
“The legacy of Israeli female heroes throughout their generations, such as Sarah Aharonson, Hannah Senesh, Hadar Cohen and the late Hadas Malka, is far more significant and important in the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel than Smotrich’s attempt to make the State of Israel a halachic state,” Liberman added.
“Smotrich proves that he has yet to understand his place as a minister in Israel,” said Likud MK Gila Gamliel. “There is no room for chauvinistic statements around the cabinet.”
Last week, the transportation minister had to issue an apology to Netanyahu after fiercely attacking him for “zero leadership” in the face of what Smotrich described as anti-religious rulings by the judiciary.
Netanyahu warned Smotrich that if he did not apologize immediately, he would be fired. Netanyahu also added that “there will not be another warning.”
Natan Rothstein contributed to this report.