IDF Chief of Staff: We'll continue integrating women into armored corps

“In every place that women can be integrated and can succeed, they will be” – IDF spokesman.

History is made with first four female tank commanders in IDF history (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
History is made with first four female tank commanders in IDF history
The IDF will continue to the next stage of integrating women into the Armored Corps, after Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi saw potential for women serving as combat soldiers in tanks, the IDF announced Sunday.
Shortly before the Supreme Court was set to examine two petitions against the military for its decision to bar women from the corps, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said the army will continue to examine the possibility of allowing women to serve as combat soldiers in tanks stationed along the country’s borders.
The IDF announced in June 2018 that the military had successfully completed a pilot program to train women on tanks. Two-thirds of the women who started the program finished it, including four who became tank commanders. But in April 2019, the military announced that despite the successful pilot program, women would not be able to serve in the Armored Corps.
According to the military, Kochavi, along with officers from the general staff and other senior Armored Corps officers, held extensive discussions examining the integration of women into tanks to be deployed along the borders.
The discussions included a thorough clarification of the achievements and results of the pilot program, as well as insights and analysis of medical data from women in combat roles in other corps in the military.
Following the discussions, Kochavi decided that while the pilot showed the real potential for women in the Armored Corps, there were also several gaps, including the difficulty of loading shells.
“In order to make a decision for the long term, the chief of staff determined that it is important to continue onto the next stage in the process of examining the integration of women into the armored corps,” the military said.
In the next stage of the pilot program, which will be at least twice the size of the previous one, the military will increase the height and weight prerequisites of women who want to take part in the program and expand the time they will be deployed to carry out operational missions along the borders with Egypt and Jordan.
ACCORDING TO Zilberman, the military will begin recruiting female soldiers for the continued pilot program during either the August or November draft. The training will be done at the Armored Corps’ Shizafon base in the Negev, and the operational activities will be deployed under the 80th Edom Division.
At the end of the training period and operational activities, another assessment will be held and a decision will be made whether or not to continue.
“The contribution of the women in the IDF was and will continue to be extremely significant,” the military said, adding that the “inclusion of women in the IDF, including during operational activities, is important and in demand, alongside the necessity of maintaining the professional requirements for each position.”
The women who completed the earlier pilot program, especially the four who completed the tank commanders course, will be invited to take part in the new pilot and also to serve in a reserve capacity during the program.
Last week, two of the women who completed the pilot, Osnat Levi and Noga Shina, along with Afik Shema, one of the officers who accompanied their training, filed a petition against the decision to bar women from the Armored Corps.
In September, Or Abramson, 19, from the settlement of Karnei Shomron, and Maayan Halberstadt of Jerusalem also filed a petition seeking to have the IDF explain why women are barred from serving as tank drivers, gunners, radio operators and commanders.
Their petition, which calls for the Supreme Court to change regulations to allow women to serve in frontline combat positions, claims that the army’s refusal to let them serve in tanks is a substantial violation of equal rights.
According to Zilberman, the next step of the pilot, including the recruitment of women, will start this year, with results expected in a year and a half.
“We’ve done a lot about integrating women in the army, but there’s still a long way to go,” Zilberman said. “In every place that women can be integrated and can succeed, they will be.”