For the first time in IDF history, four female soldiers became tank commanders after they successfully concluded a 16-month-long pilot course for tank commanders, IDF announced Thursday.
“The pilot program was designed to examine whether and how women can be integrated as tank fighters in the border defense system,” the army said in a statement.
During the course the female soldiers showed to be able to to load shells rapidly and overcome—without unusual difficulty—operating the tank’s braking pedal, which requires physical strength.
In July 2017 15 women began the grueling training program within the Caracal Battalion, an infantry combat battalion composed of both male and female soldiers, after they were chosen through a tough selection process in which the soldiers needed to show “high levels of motivation” to serve in combat roles, but only four of them completed the course .
The pilot program, which is almost identical to the tank commanders course male fighters are required to complete, except for the all-out war exercises, included a basic and advanced combat training.
“The training stage was a success, both concerning the instructional and the operational aspect all of the objectives set for the fighters were achieved,” said Chief Armored Officer, Brigadier General Guy Hasson.
“We did not make any allowances for the women. We did not compromise, and they know that. They did it like real warriors,” Hasson concluded.
Charlotte Davidovitch Peled, 20, Tel Aviv, is one of the four girls who successfully finished the course . She immigrated from England two years ago and was motivated to enet in a combat unit . “I made aliyah to serve in the IDF, and I chose to be a combat . I believe that the IDF should give a greater opportunity to women in all combat functions in the army, even though our physiological structure is different from that of the boys. ” she said .
The success of the pilot program designed to combine woman in tank brigades and check if they could physically handle the rigors of the Armored Corp, comes six months after a renewed backlash against women in combat positions and co-ed military service in general. In January two prominent religious Zionist rabbis, Shlomo Aviner of Jerusalem and Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat, called on observant men to boycott the IDF until the army agrees to create gender-segregated units. The brouhaha, prompted by the appointment of a female pilot, Major Tuli, as the first female commander of an IAF squadron.
Even worse for the rabbis is the growing trend for Orthodox girls to forego civilian national service in favor of enlisting in the military, once a near-consensus taboo in the religious Zionist world but now an acceptable option throughout the community: In places like Efrat, Alon Shvut, Tel Mond, Givat Shmuel, Rehovot and many religious Zionist neighborhoods of Jerusalem teenage girls meet openly with IDF recruiters, with tacit or explicit approval from their teachers and parents.
Notably, several senior religious Zionist rabbis came to the defence of the IDF, saying military officials had handled the influx of Orthodox men and women into senior combat roles “in a very sensitive and smart way” and praising them for accommodating the needs of religious soldiers men and women alike.
Written by Mara Vigevani/TPS | Photo by IDF Spokesperson