Israel Defense Forces’s official spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz weighed in Monday on an ongoing row over women’s role in the military, and specifically the Armored Corps, taking to Facebook to celebrate the inclusion of female fighters in Israel’s army.
“In recent years we have opened many positions for women and this has proven” to be successful, Almoz wrote, praising the motivation of women and their desire to contribute to the State of Israel. He also clarified that the IDF is currently experimenting with the integration of women into certain combat units within the Armored Corps, and it is premature to discuss the issue until after the trial is completed.
Almoz stressed that the IDF is the army of the nation, and that women, as part of the nation, have a crucial role to play within it. He also pointed out that women serve as instructors for the Armored Corp, learning and teaching every role within the tanks. He wrote that this is one of the most sought-after IDF roles by women.
“Before taking a position we should always find out the facts,” Almoz wrote to end his Facebook post.
His comments followed many controversial statements about integrating women into these units. Last week, Brig. Gen. Eran Shani mentioned the army was conducting research to see if positions for women could be expanded, including in the Armored Corps and elite 669 rescue unit.
However, the current head of the Armored Corps, Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson came out strongly against allowing women a greater role.
In a recent conversation with The Times of Israel, conducted prior to Shani’s talk, Hasson indicated that the fundamental issues preventing integration of tank units — the physical requirements and social concerns — had yet to be addressed. However, he also noted that even if they were, he would oppose such an effort on the grounds that having female soldiers would harm the “image” of the corps — which is already one of the least popular units for recruits.
Hasson attributed this lack of interest in the tank corps to people’s view that it’s not as tough as the more sought after infantry brigades: Golani, Givati, Paratroopers, Nahal and Kfir. Having women integrated within the corps will only exacerbate the problem, he claimed.
The debate regarding women’s role within the military became even more heated after a radio interview on Sunday, in which former general Yiftach Ron-Tal claimed the proposal to integrate women into tank brigades is a “scandal,” and part of a conspiracy by far-left organizations to harm the Israel Defense Forces.
Though he subsequently apologized for his comments he ignited a storm and his comments were swiftly denounced by members of Knesset, including Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria and Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who are both often at the forefront of gender issues.
Also Monday, the High Court of Justice temporarily suspended the appointment of Col. Eyal Karim as the new IDF chief rabbi, saying that before he could assume the post he had to clarify remarks he made over a decade ago that were perceived as condoning rape of non-Jewish women during wartime.
Karim maintains that he was speaking entirely theoretically about a Biblical passage.
He has also said that it is “entirely forbidden” for women to serve in the army for reasons of modesty, and has opposed women singing at army events as contrary to halacha (Jewish law).
Today, some 92 percent of army positions are available to women, according to the IDF. The remaining 8% include the tank and infantry brigades, which the IDF Medical Corps determined had physical requirements that female physiology could not handle.