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3 Jan, 2022 16:08

Israeli military to roll out all-women combat platoon – reports

The women-only unit is being set up for female recruits who have religious qualms about serving alongside men
Israeli military to roll out all-women combat platoon – reports

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is reportedly creating a new women-only combat unit for religious female soldiers who want to serve on the frontlines but have “modesty” concerns about being in close quarters with male troops.

Beginning in March, the military will assign conscripts from women enlisting for combat roles into the new platoon, which will be established within an existing, mixed-gender border defense unit, according to the Times of Israel. The IDF said the move to allow more women to serve in fighting units was based on practical considerations and not a “social agenda,” according to the Times.

The heads of religious seminaries, where many female high school graduates study before undertaking national service, reportedly told the IDF that their students had a “strong desire” to serve in combat roles, but were unable to reconcile this with their observance of “strict modesty laws.” Women who are considered religious are allowed to choose to perform their national service in a civilian vocation, the paper reported.

Single-sex military units already exist for religious men who request these positions for similar reasons, the paper noted, adding that there are four mixed-gender infantry units within the IDF’s Border Defense Corps, which is tasked with watching over Israel’s borders with Jordan and Egypt.

However, the topic of female soldiers is apparently a hot button issue for some religious leaders and opponents of gender integration in the military. According to the paper, some critics have denounced such measures as a “dangerous social experiment with potential ramifications for national security.”

Detractors say that service requirements have been lowered for female combat soldiers and that the military’s effectiveness has been sacrificed in the name of gender equality.

A recent online spat on a Facebook group about IDF service highlighted the continued sensitivity of the matter. The Israel Hayom news outlet noted that a post on the ‘IDF Confessions’ page by a self-declared former member of a mixed-gender infantry battalion sparked controversy after they wrote that “there’s no such thing as women in combat.”

“Anyone who served in a mixed [gender] battalion knows that the men do everything considered difficult and are more trusted,” the poster claimed, adding that the initiative had “failed” because “the requirement to be a [female] combat soldier is so low.”