Israeli cabinet minister causes stir by opposing women in combat units

Israel’s transportation minister said that mixed-gender combat units damages the IDF.

By World Israel News Staff 

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich is reiterating his opposition to women and men serving together in the same military units, saying that it damages the IDF’s operational capabilities.

Smotrich is running in the September 17 Knesset election on the list of the new Yemina faction, a conglomeration of right-wing parties.

“Serving in mixed units is service that damages the IDF operational capability,” Smotrich said on Israel’s Army Radio, adding that only those wishing “to advance an agenda” think that it’s a good idea.

Yemina leader Ayelet Shaked, who is not Orthodox, defended her religious colleague, telling critics, “stop inciting.” Shaked noted that while four women on the Yemina list in the upcoming election served in the military, it must be understood that ” joint combat service is a complex issue in religious Zionism.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among those who distanced themselves from the comments of the Transportation Minister, who is also a member of the Security Cabinet.

“I am proud of our women soldiers and women fighters who contribute to Israeli security,” said the prime minister, adding that “just last week, they assisted in thwarting a murderous attack from the Gaza Strip.”

However, Smotrich then tweeted a response and told Netanyahu that he was missing the point, saying that there is “no argument” over the “wonderful and life-saving” work done by the women soldiers positioned at the lookout posts to guard against cross-border incursions.

“What’s the connection between that and mixed fighting units of which I spoke?” the minister asked rhetorically.

Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, said: “I have news for Smotrich and Netanyahu – women will be in any place where they can contribute, in the IDF and in general.”