Women In The Israel Defense Forces

September 10, 2011  

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Israel is the only country in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. Women have taken part in Israel’s military before and since the founding of the state in 1948, with women currently comprising 34% of all IDF soldiers, fulfilling various roles within the Ground, Navy and Air Forces. The 2000 Equality amendment to the Military Service law states that “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” Currently, 88% of all roles in the IDF are open to female candidates, while women can be found in 69% of all positions.

Before the State of Israel

Before the establishment of the state, women served in combat roles in the militias that would become the Israel Defense Forces. The rate of women who took part in combat organizations stood at 20%. At the years before the establishment of the IDF, military service for women existed in the lines of the Shomer and Hagana organizations. The Hagana stated in its law that its lines were open to: “Every Jewish male or female, who is prepared and trained to fulfill the obligation of national defense.” Most served as medics, communications specialists, and weaponeers. During WWII approximately 4,000 females volunteered for service in the British assisting forces. One of them, Alice Hatzor-Hirsch, was about 16 when she joined the Hagana. In 1942, she joined the British army as a driver. “We were more connected than the others,” she recalled years later. “A girl becoming a driver in the British army was considered the height of boldness at the time.”

In Tel-Aviv of the 1940’s, a battalion was established in which women filled positions in security, weapons transport, and manned anti-aircraft posts. In the winter of 1948, during the Israeli war of independence, women joined the combat soldiers of the Palmach, who traveled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with their weapons concealed in their clothes. The Palmach arm (thirty percent of which were females) trained nine female platoon commanders, and other female squad commanders.

1948 War

Less than two weeks after the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion officially set up the IDF as the country’s army. On 18 August 1948, mandatory conscription for single and married women without children (born between the years 1920-1930) began.

Women served in many positions including nurses, signal operators, drivers, clerks, cooks and more. The Women’s Corps, under which all women served, was responsible for taking care of women soldiers’ needs and for their training and integration into different IDF units. The Women’s Corps also sent young women soldiers to be teachers in developing areas and immigrant neighborhoods of Israel.

Since 1948

Apart from during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when manpower shortages saw many IDF Women taking active part in land battles, women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles. IDF commanders have historically considered the practice of assigning women to combatant duties to be immoral due to the heightened danger of sexual assault that female soldiers would face if captured by the enemy. Soon after the establishment of the IDF, the removal of all women from front-line positions was decreed. Decisive for this decision was the very real possibility of falling into enemy hands as prisoners of war. It was fair and equitable, it was argued, to demand from women equal sacrifice and risk; but the risk for women prisoners of rape and sexual molestation was infinitely greater than the same risk for men. A majority of women serving in the IDF then were secretaries. The rest served primarily as instructors, nurses, clerks and telephone operators. A few women flew transport missions in the 1950s and a few women were accepted into flight training in the 1970s, but did not complete the program before it was closed to women. Yael Rom, the first female pilot trained by the Israeli Air Force, earned her wings in 1951. Hava Inbar, a lawyer, was appointed the judge of the military court in Haifa in September of 1969, thus becoming the first female military judge in the world. “I do not know if I want to be a military judge my whole life,” she said in an interview, “but I am glad that I was appointed; it proves that the IDF leaves almost all doors open for its female soldiers.”

During the Yom Kippur War, due to a growing need for ground forces, women were needed in roles in the field. According to Rina Bar-Tal, chair of the Israel Women’s Network, roles for women beyond technical and secretarial support only started to open up in the late 1970s and early ’80s, because of manpower shortages. Since then, a few women have earned ranks higher than colonel. In 1986, Amira Dotan, then head of the Women’s Corps, became the first female brigadier-general.

Gender equality

Civilian pilot and aeronautical engineer Alice Miller successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to take the Israeli Air Force pilot training exams, after being rejected on grounds of gender. Though president Ezer Weizman, a former IAF commander, told Miller that she’d be better off staying home and darning socks, the court eventually ruled in 1996 that the IAF could not exclude qualified women from pilot training. Even though Miller would not pass the exams, the ruling was a watershed, opening doors for women in new IDF roles. Female legislators took advantage of the momentum to draft a bill allowing women to volunteer for any position, if they could qualify.

In 2000, the Equality amendment to the Military Service law stated that “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” The amendment that female lawmakers had drafted granted equal opportunities to women found physically and personally suitable for a job. The question of who and what was “suitable” was left to the discretion of military leaders on a case-by-case basis. Women did start to enter combat support and light combat roles in a few areas, including the Artillery Corps, infantry units and armored divisions. A few platoons named Karakal were formed for men and women to serve together in light infantry. By 2004 Karakal became a full-fledged brigade. Many women would also join the Border Police. The Women’s Corps was dismantled in 2000, so that female soldiers for the first time would fall under the authority of individual units based on jobs and not on gender. They would wear the insignia of their units instead of the insignia of the Women’s Corps. The position of Adviser to the Chief of General Staff on Women’s Affairs was created.

The first female jet fighter pilot, Roni Zuckerman, received her wings in 2001. By 2006, the first female pilots and navigators graduated from the IAF training course, and several hundred women entered combat units, primarily in support roles, like intelligence gatherers, instructors, social workers, medics and engineers. When the Second Lebanon War broke out, it was the first time since 1948 that women were in field operations alongside men. Airborne helicopter engineer Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Keren Tendler was the first female IDF combat soldier to be killed in action. In November 2007 the Air Force appointed its first woman deputy squadron commander.

In 2007, the Head of Personnel Branch, Major General (res.) Eliezer Shtern, appointed a committee to define women’s service in the IDF in the next decade, with the objective of increasing equal opportunities in women’s service in the IDF. In September 2008, the committee’s recommendations were presented to the IDF General Staff. Rav Aluf Gabi Ashkenazi, then-Chief of Staff, supported the committee’s vision:

“The IDF, as a leading organization in Israeli society, designates the service of men and women to a fulfilling and respectful service based upon equal opportunities in the service of [the] IDF and the State of Israel.”

On 23 June 2011, Orna Barbivai became the first female Major-General in the IDF upon her promotion to the role of commander of the Manpower Directorate. She is the second woman to serve on the General Staff.


The unisex Caracal Battalion, which serves in a full combat capacity (2006)
Mandatory service for women in the IDF is 24 months, apart from roles specified in law which require a service length of 36 months. Women may be exempted from military service for reasons of religious conscience, marriage, pregnancy or motherhood. A woman may receive an exemption on religious grounds under the following conditions:
1.She has declared that for reasons of conscience, or a religious way of life, she is prevented from doing military service and has proven this to the satisfaction of the exemption committee.
2.She keeps the laws of Kashrut at home and outside.
3.She does not travel on Shabbat.

Women who arrive in Israel at age 17 and over are generally exempt from army service, but may serve on a voluntary basis. Also, women (who are not fighters) are not generally called up for reserve duty if they are married or if they are beyond age 24.

Combat roles

Clause 16A of the military service law requires that female combat soldiers serve 3 years of mandatory service, and continue in reserves service up to age 38, even if they become mothers. These are essentially identical to the terms of service for male combat soldiers. Each year, 1,500 female combat soldiers are drafted into the IDF.

A combat option for women is the Caracal Battalion, which is a highly operational force that is made up of 70 percent female soldiers. The unit undergoes training like any combat infantry. Elinor Joseph, who has served with the Caracal Battalion, is the first Arab woman ever to serve in a combat role in the Israeli army.

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  1. Peace Man says:

    This is very informative and visually appealing ))

    1. Anonymous says:

      Not only R these Women beautiful, they deadly in combat, go girls go, may god be with you.

  2. Peace Man says:

    There’s nothing like a pretty girl in a uniform.

  3. RonnyRJG says:

    The Women in the IDF can be found in 69% of all POSITIONS? Hmm!

  4. Peace Man says:

    I surrender

  5. Anonymous says:

    What would it be like if women in the US would have to serve in the military?

  6. Mike says:

    Bass Ass Jewish Lass…..in pink dresses…..I don’t think these are your typical dependent Jewish American Princessess

    I don’t think no Neo-Nazi Skinhead is going to get these babes any time….they will put them 6 feet under.

    These are not the helpless Jewish people that got forced into box cars and taken to concentration camps, they are not the ones run out of Spain during the inquisition, these are not the ones who fled Russia during the pograms. They are armed to the teeth and locked and loaded 24/7….even on the Sabbath they will defend themselves.

    I love Jewish humor: The Women in the IDF can be found in 69% of all POSITIONS…..did Mel Brooks write this?

    1. Peace Man says:

      Great comments! You are right.

  7. sam colt says:

    are these chicks for real or are they just a bunch of photo models?

    1. Peace Man says:

      They look very real to me

    2. Anonymous says:

      more real than you can imagine. My friend was in the army for Israel and protected me and a friend one night from a guy who wanted to attack us.

  8. Lorenzo says:

    The woman / soldier on the 7:20 mark looks like my wife when we first met. We have been married for twenty five years now. That’s what I come home to, I am a lucky man.

  9. T.J. says:

    “…women can be found in 69% of all positions.”
    Bless ’em all!!

  10. The Specialist says:

    Thank you all for your service to Israel! I am a Christian from the United States, from where I stand behind Israel.

  11. Abu Dhabi Lawyers says:

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for appeal lawyer

  12. Darwin Jackson Long III says:

    Where do I sign up! Will the Israeli armed forces accept a 69 y.o,. former U.S. Navy guy in good shape! I think not. Getting serious, the women are all so beautiful that any man would be honored to serve with them, even if it was just to be in their company (I’m happily married, but appreciate feminine beauty).
    I appreciate more the brave work that they are doing to keep Israel safe and free!

  13. Chris says:

    There all so beautiful and would like to look each one up next time I’m in Israel. I would like to marry all of you…
    I am a soldier in the U.S. Army Infantry(foot soldier) and come to Tel Aviv or else where when I am on my mid tour break.

    מנהיג הוא מי יודע את הדרך, הולך בדרך ומראה את הדרך.”
    ישר כח

  14. DevD says:

    courage, bravery and dedication thy name is ISRAEL
    Not sure if women in any other country, in any part of the world are as daring, committed and patriotic as that of Israel. What use is that beauty if it only as beehive of admirers behind it, when put to national duty, the aura of beauty becomes ephemeral… Great nation Israel!!! you astound everyone

  15. Paulien Joël-Parera says:

    I have respect for all the womans in Israel who joined the military.They are so beautifull and brave and they have courage.
    Keep Israel save and free. Love you all.

  16. tool box says:

    Lavon affair, USS liberty, Jonathan pollard. What kind of god would choose these people

  17. Ben says:

    I just returned from Israel for vacation with my fiancé, and they are prettier and more beautiful in real life on buses at train stations and even on the beach in Tel Aviv.
    some had arms slung over their backs. and they seems like they do know how to handle their weapons.

  18. Ben says:

    I wonder then what it will be like greeting your gf or wife coming home with a Tavor or M16 rifle. lol….hhmmm…

  19. Biar Ragine says:

    Hi hello very cute…I love it

  20. Volodea Bucsek says:

    You are the most courageous,brave and beautifull woman..”and I mean every single one of you ladies” that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world..You are all awsome!!!

  21. ed baker says:

    most beautiful lethal fighting force.i would be proud to service with pretty ladies God bless .p.s please keep your pretty heads down .

  22. Anonymous says:

    love you all

  23. Anonymous says:

    god bless America

  24. gewgweg says:

    bunch of whores

  25. nice women very very i lake

  26. Anonymous says:

    if i the chance to sellect from these beautiful ,i would transfer 60 percent of theme for the need o the country else. they are too beautiful to be soldiers’

  27. David says:

    Extremely gorgeous murders are still fu**ing murderers.

  28. RnBram says:

    Not mobile friendly!
    Come on!

  29. Len Straub says:

    There just has to be something immoral about using women as beautiful as all of these as soldiers. What man in his right mind could possibly shoot at any one of them? I’m an old man now, but if I had know the women of Israel were such beauties, I think I would have emigrated from Canada a long time ago. Wow!

  30. Peter Stein says:

    Makes me proud to be Jewish. Also, wishing I was 18 again.

  31. Don Jones says:

    I bet they are all great heroes to your country and to the world.

  32. Henry Disbrowe says:

    I like to see how the woman are doing what they can. wish all the world would just stop all this crap.

  33. HeyJules says:

    Wow! Just Wow!

  34. James Toney says:

    They look good and will kick your ass!

  35. ken pinnell says:


  36. Daniel Paul Cubel says:

    I would like to have as a friend a female Israeli soldier.
    She can communicate to me via my email address.

  37. Thomas muto samuel says:

    Am from
    the world’s youngest nation south sudan, need a friend lady from Israeli

  38. Paul Paixao says:

    I love Israel.

  39. Captn Herm says:

    I’m Canadian and while our Prime Minister is playing into the moslems hands it is ice to know that the Israelis are giving them hell on earth!

  40. just another daniel says:

    id so love to marry one of your women israel! *begs

    if i find any of you in my land i would help you anyway i can.

    I truly believe you are God’s cho5en people.

  41. Manzoor ahmed says:

    Am Moslem but I respect you all . You all are good human beings . Leave politics and fight on side
    If any one u need my help I will do for sure

  42. Robert Juarez says:

    Admire the Jewish people attitude.you hit we willhit you harder.no votes no congress to bullshit about it .its instantaneous….im 46yrs young divorced man.yuall very beautiful women with guns lol.ever visit south Yexas look me up id be proud to show yuall around.God Bless

  43. ashish thakur says:

    Every soldier is a Savior of our nation an Israel is ththe best because girls are also in armyarmy I’m also a army soldier and I always respect these girls so plz always remind that donor criticize okOK

  44. Michael says:

    I’ve never understood why anyone would ever wanna commit genocide -ESPECIALLY against a group of people capable of producing daughters as beautiful as these young women.

  45. Steve says:

    These women are awesome not to mention
    Hot. God bless you all

  46. Bobby Walker says:

    All these ladies are very beautiful and strong-looking soldiers stay safe photo number 65 Soldier stay safe praying for you lady

  47. Jose's Salas says:

    Israel has the best fighting force in the Mideast.men and women alike. The
    Sacrifices they endure sense the became a nation. Still fighting to this
    Day just to stay alive. I myself as the American people know all to well
    About Independence. We can never go back to the past but indure the future.
    Tomorrow will come and who’ll reign above it?. Israel and America are one in
    The same, bound by tradition and by blood. we stand by you till the bitter
    End. Because if you fall we as Americans failed you. we must never let the
    Holocaust of the past happen again. The suffering of one is the suffering of
    All.! It defines who we are.!!

  48. Michael Hayes says:

    Wow, so many beautiful women. I have always wanted to visit, but seeing all those gorgeous girls makes me want to stay.

  49. alrose ben murphy says:

    I am born from a Syrian jewish mother,and an Iranian father, the love of Israel is merged to me from my mother,I love you guys,and my wish to you is all the best,you will have my love and support all the way long,I pray for you from the bottom of my heart.

  50. Swaran Mongia says:

    When Men fail. Women take the reign.
    Beauty with courage.

    Need a daughter in Law.

    Compliments to each one.

  51. RON says:


  52. Swaran Mongia says:

    Need a brave Daughter-in-law…..

  53. Claud Pipkin says:

    I can see why King David desired (sounds better than lusted) after his neighbor’s wife…(which he got into a whole lotta trouble as a result)…….The women of Israel are some of the most desirable in the world and I desire them……joking aside they are beautiful…………..

  54. Javier says:

    I surrender!!

  55. M, Chappell says:

    Brave, Courageous,and beautiful woman fighting for their homeland

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