Israel Grapples With Military’s Plan to Open Combat Roles to Women
Women can now serve in the army in mixed units like Caracal, and in positions such as army intelligence and artillery.
But roles in the infantry and special forces have remained largely off limits due to the physical requirement of carrying heavy loads.
Now, the military plans to test-run women into those kinds of units.
Other Western militaries are opening up combat roles to women, too.
Last year the U.S. military said it would allow women in all such positions.
In July, the U.K. said it would also lift a ban on women serving in front-line combat roles.
Israel’s shift, however, will have wide implications for a country where military service is mandatory and at the core of the security-conscious society.
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Not everyone is persuaded the time has come for such changes.
A group of Israeli rabbis last month told Army Radio it opposed the introduction of women into combat because it would put religious women in compromising positions with men.
Some former military commanders labeled the move a plot to undermine the strength of the army.
“I think that in the end the woman’s role is to be a mother and to bring children into the world,” retired Brig. Gen Avigdor Kahalani, a former Israeli tank commander, told Army Radio last month.
Women in combat roles dilutes the prestige of serving in the army for men, according to Martin van Creveld, an Israeli military historian and author who calls mixed gender units like Caracal “summer camp.”