IDF to create combat unit for religious women, despite rabbinical objections

IDF gearing up to create female-only combat units to accommodate religious Jewish women; leading Religious Zionist rabbi opposed to women in combat roles.

By World Israel News Staff

The IDF is planning to create a female-only combat platoon in order to accommodate religious Jewish women, Hebrew media Kan 11 News reported on Sunday evening.

In March 2022, the station reported, religious female recruits will be able to join a battalion which is composed of only women.

The decision was said to triggered by the heads of Religious Zionist girls’ schools, who told IDF officials that students wanted to serve in combat units but could not due to the mixed-gender nature of the platoons.

Currently, Jewish women who identify as religious are granted a blanket exemption from military service.

Some observant Jewish women perform national service as an alternative to enlisting, which sees them serve as volunteers in social, educational, community, and medical settings.

The IDF has announced in recent months that it aims to recruit 40 percent of the religious female population.

The Aluma organization, which was established by the Religious Kibbutz movement, has worked in tandem with the IDF to try to create a more accommodating environment for observant women in the military.

Aluma recently held an event encouraging observant women to choose enlistment over national service which was attended by some 1,300 people, the Jewish Press reported.

Rabbi David Stav, chair of the Religious Zionist Tzohar organization, had attended the event to congratulate women who decided to enlist.

However, according to Kipa, Stav opposes women serving in combat roles and insinuated that he was misled about the nature of the event.

“If it turns out that my visit is being used for other purposes, which are not acceptable to me and especially to Halacha [Jewish law]” such as encouraging women to serve in combat units, Stav said, “I will certainly not take part in such an event.”

The mixed-gender Karakal Battalion is Israel’s foremost combat option for women. Karakal is typically stationed at the Egypt – Israel border in the southern Negev desert.