Female soldier petitions High Court to force IDF to give her shot at elite unit

Citing discrimination, the pilot course candidate says the men who failed to advance along with her were offered a chance at units she was barred from.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The High Court of Justice will hear a petition Monday by a female soldier who is being barred from trying for elite units of the IDF with her male comrades after they were dropped together from the IDF pilots’ course.

“We came to a place where they told us what our options were for continuing,” H. told Channel 12 News. The men, she said, were offered a chance to interview for “combat in the Armored Corps, combat in Maglan [commandos operating deep behind enemy lines], in Duvdevan [anti-terror commandos] – any unit you could think of. I was given a page listing two combat units.”

H. requested from the chief of staff that he allow her to try out for the same prestigious units as her fellow soldiers, and was refused. She then turned to the court to reverse the decision that she says discriminates against her solely because of her gender.

“I completed the same courses with them, I carried the stretcher [in training] with them, I carried the same equipment they carried, and they can do something that I can’t do – and why? Just because I’m a woman?” H. asked rhetorically.

Amichai Weinberger, H.’s attorney, said, “We demand from the army that it come and see things as they are and give her the same options and the same opportunities as it gives to all the men and her other colleagues from the pilots’ course who fell [from the course] with her.”

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The High Court has combined this hearing with another petition on equality for women in the IDF. The second one deals with four women who are not yet in the army and are demanding to be drafted into elite units.

Kan News reported Sunday evening that there are several female soldiers who have been dropped from various military programs, and they are looking to this hearing to enable them to serve in the most challenging units.

“The reason I tried in the first place to be accepted into the seamanship course was not because of feminism, or to show that a woman can do it,” said Naomi Levi-Ashkenazi, who was dropped after seven months of training in the Navy. “I thought that this was truly the job in which I could fully realize myself, and which I would be best at. It’s also the reason that I want to open up these tryouts.”

The IDF had requested that the petitions be postponed because the chief of staff had established a committee that was reviewing the possibility of integrating women into more combat positions. As an example of how it is taking the issue seriously, its request cited the decision to renew its pilot program for women in the Armored Corps that will begin this month.

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H., meanwhile, had a wider view of what it would mean for women if they could serve in the most respected and important units of the IDF.

“The glass ceiling is not just in the roles that women perform today,” she explained. “If they open the special units, they will open up the option of women advancing in the military and making decisions in the country.”