Female tank crew should be allowed to serve, says former IDF ombudsman

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick weighed in as the IDF Chief of Staff is set to respond to a Supreme Court petition by women who want to enter the Armored Corps.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In response to a Supreme Court petition by two upcoming female draftees, the former IDF ombudsman said that women can and should serve in the Armored Corps, Israel’s Walla! website reported on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick told Walla! that he recently talked to four women who had completed a tank commanders course last year but who were then put into a mixed-gender infantry battalion instead of serving in the corps for which they were trained.

“I found fighters full of motivation, excellence, with outstanding professional abilities,” he said. “Some had previously been instructors in the Armored Corps, so they were on a very high level. Their commanders also praised them highly.”

The IDF had run a pilot program to train over a dozen women in all tank duties, with the best of them taking the commanders course. Upon their graduation, the Armored Corps commander, Gen. Guy Hasson, said that an all-female team “could conduct operational activities within the border defense system.”

Brick agreed with that assessment, saying that while women shouldn’t go into “enemy territory,” they should have been “incorporated into a company that does work on the border; companies that help hold the line.”

This is especially so “In light of the severe problems in drafting males, including the reduced motivation to serve in combat [units],” he said.

The former Armored Corps commander dismissed the claims aired by some officers that women did not have the physical capabilities necessary for the heavy work involved in working a tank, such as lifting shells and loading the main gun.

“They chose women who have the physiological abilities to fulfill their tasks even better than male fighters,” he said. “Women whose body build and physical fitness allow it.”

On Saturday, Ynet reported that an unnamed Armored Corps source said that the female recruits had had problems with loading the tank shells on many occasions. They had also exhibited “mental difficulties” during operational missions, said the source.

The plan to integrate the pilot program’s graduates into the Armored Corps was nixed in April because the IDF said that “the next stage would require a significant increase in manpower and infrastructure for the realization of the process” of creating female tank units.

Two women who want to serve in such a unit when they are drafted in 2020 have appealed to the Supreme Court on the basis that not allowing them to do so is a violation of their equal rights. As one of the main respondents in the case, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi must in the coming days hand in the IDF’s official response to the petition.