Religious Zionist rabbonim and soldiers have rebelled against IDF plans to increase female integration into combat units and even possibly integrate women into tank crews.
Leading religious Zionist leaders Rav Dov Lior, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu and Rav Mordechai Sternberg lambasted the idea at an emergency meeting and said they would ask the Chief Rabbinate to fight against the move.
Over a thousand religious Zionist soldiers and yeshiva students signed a petition protesting “the attempt to introduce into the IDF a spirit of mixed-gender service.” This, the petition said, would contravene the posuk’s injunction, “Your camp shall be holy so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and turn away from you (Devorim 23:15).”
Rabbi Dror Aryeh, head of a Hesder yeshiva, said that the IDF’s new plans crossed a red line and meant “that if a [religious] commander is ordered to set up a mixed battalion and command contrary to moral and operational standards, he won’t be able to do it.”
“We have to follow the decrees of divine morality,” he said.
Armored Corps head Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson noted that there were physical and social restraints which made it inadvisable for women to enlist in tank units. Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot agreed to reconsider the feasibility of women joining armored divisions.
According to Jewish Virtual Library, women participated in full combat roles in the 1948 War, but were then barred from such positions until the ‘90s, when women appealed against the inequality in the Supreme Court. This led to the 2000 Equality amendment to the Defense Service Law which asserts that women’s rights to serve in any IDF role are equal to that of men.
Israel’s third mixed-gender combat battalion, Bardelas, was inaugurated in 2015. At present, 2,100 women, approximately 7% of the women in the IDF, serve in combat roles.
Meanwhile, 150 new soldiers joined the chareidi Netzach Yehuda Battalion of the Kefir Brigade.