IDF to open top elite commando unit to female troops

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Israel Defense Forces will begin to draft female recruits to the military’s most elite unit, Sayeret Matkal, as well as two other units that were previously closed off to women, as part of the latest pilot programs aimed at opening more combat roles to female fighters, the army announces.

Starting at the end of 2024, female recruits will be able to undergo various special physical and mental screenings, enabling them to potentially serve in combat positions in Sayeret Matkal.

However, the pilot program would only be carried out if the IDF has enough female recruits who meet the criteria for Sayeret Matkal, which would be decided before the first recruits are drafted in late 2024.

Separately, the IDF plans to open up the elite Unit 5515 combat mobility unit to female recruits, starting in 2025, also provided the IDF has enough female soldiers to pass the various screening tests. The unit is tasked with special driving-related operations and often works in tandem with other elite units.

Lastly, the IDF aims to begin a pilot program for female soldiers to serve in the Armored Corps sometime in 2024.

Currently, female soldiers can serve in tanks in the IDF’s Border Defense Corps, as part of an all-female tank company in the Caracal mixed-gender light infantry battalion, which operates along the Egyptian border — not in wars or in fighting deep behind enemy lines.

The IDF believes there is a low chance they will have enough women that will be able to pass the screening tests to serve in the Armored Corps, but plans to push forward with the pilot program anyway.

The moves come after the High Court in June demanded the IDF explain why it had not opened all units to women.

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