High Court gives IDF 5 months for work integrating women into elite units

The IDF formed a committee in July to examine whether women could serve in all positions in the military, including the elite Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet 13.

A woman combat soldier poses near the northern border a year ago during a joint exercise involving artillery, infantry and armored brigades (photo credit: EDEN BRIAND/IDF)
A woman combat soldier poses near the northern border a year ago during a joint exercise involving artillery, infantry and armored brigades
(photo credit: EDEN BRIAND/IDF)
The High Court of Justice has given the army five months to complete the work of a committee that will examine the integration of women into elite combat units, with a ruling expected to be issued at a later date.
The decision on Monday was a victory for the four young women who launched the petition against the Israeli military and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to allow them to try out for all military units, including the most elite combat units of Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13 and other commando units like Duvdevan.
In May, four teenagers, Mika Kliger, Mor Lidani, Gali Nishri and Omer Saria, petitioned the High Court to force the IDF to allow all potential recruits to try out for elite commando units, regardless of their gender.
“We’re not asking that demands be changed for us – just let us try out and if we qualify, let us join the units,” Lidani told Channel 12 News at the time.
They are being represented by attorneys Inor Bertental, Amihai Weinberger, Adi Klein and Revital Applebaum. The petition was heard by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justices Menachem Mazuz and Yael Willner.
The IDF said in July that it had formed “a professional committee with the goal of seriously and thoroughly considering – from a wide, inclusive and in-depth point of view – the possibility of integrating women into additional combat positions in the IDF.”
The committee will be led by the head of the Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick and Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano – the outgoing head of the Gaza Division and a former commander of the Paratroopers Brigade – will serve as Strick’s deputy.
“Men and women with senior positions in the IDF who have relevant, operational and professional expertise in a variety of fields will take part in the committee,” the IDF said, adding that the committee will carry out their work over the course of the year.
The committee will investigate a number of factors including physiological and medical considerations; human resource planning; how the women would try out for the units; how it would affect the military’s command structure going forward; how it would affect reserve service; how to have co-ed service while maintaining propriety; and more.
Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman, head of the Military and Society Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, said that the court’s decision was a “positive and important step” to allow the military to complete its work.
“The time has come for all potential combatants to be judged based on their own skills and qualifications and not be disqualified by their gender. When the committee does publish its findings, it will be unfortunate that the women whose petition was heard before the court will not be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Gittleman said, adding that “in addition, it would be appropriate for the court to take a moral stand and demand that the IDF allow all soldiers to serve in units based only upon professional and objective criteria.”
In June, a former commander of Sayeret Matkal, Col. (res.) H.P., who headed the unit from 2016 to 2019, and his deputy, Lt.-Col. (res.) A.H., submitted their opinion to the court regarding the petition.
“We believe that women can successfully serve as combat soldiers in Sayeret Matkal and that their integration as fighters would yield a unique and significant contribution, both from an operational perspective and an organizational perspective to Sayeret Matkal in particular and to the IDF in general. In our opinion, Sayeret Matkal is losing potential maximum value by limiting enlistment to men only,” the officers were quoted by Haaretz as having written.