The first batch of women set to graduate from the Palestinian military academy marched with their male colleagues on Saturday, in a rare display of women and men training alongside each other in the Middle East. The sight of women in uniform is not a common one in the Palestinian Authority, as only a small number serve in law enforcement, and the sight of them training and serving alongside men is almost unheard of. The joint training marks a first, and a symptom of the growing influence of women in a traditionally male-dominated society. The two-year-old academy currently has 16 women among 148 men in its class set to graduate in June. They will then be incorporated into the Palestinian police, intelligence services and preventive security forces. On Saturday, women clad in olive-green uniforms, some with their heads covered, marched together with the men. Farah Salman was one of them and said she dreamed of being a police commander. "Society is still not accepting of the idea of a woman working in the security apparatuses," said the 24-year-old from Nablus. "There might be assignments at night. Our society doesn't allow a girl to stay late at night with men." But Rwaida Rabaya said working in security helped both the Palestinian cause and the feminist cause. "I thought that I can defend my land in many fields and now I choose the peaceful field," said Rabaya, 29, who spent two years in an Israeli prison for her affiliation with a Palestinian terror group. "This gives the girl an exceptional role, and this has broken the social bonds against the girl, and reinforced my confidence." Women do the same training as the men, which includes marching, crawling, shooting, riding horses and the trademark jumping through rings of fire. Niveen Sawi, 30, said she and her classmates had trouble finding military clothes and shoes that fit but otherwise the playing field was level. "We get punished the same as boys, we are ordered to crawl on our tummy, if we're late 30 minutes in the morning," she said. "This is what we need to be like men. Here is where men are made."