IDF opens additional combat positions to women but will any qualify?

Women will be subject to height, weight, and strength requirements that will likely prove impossible for them to meet, save for a tiny fraction of the population.

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli army has opened a number of additional positions in combat units to female soldiers, including roles that had previously been male-only, but with caveats that make the integration of women into those positions unlikely.

After a two-year court battle that was heard by Israel’s Supreme Court, the IDF agreed to allow new recruits to try out for specific combat units, without their gender being considered.

The IDF’s top elite units, such as the special forces Sayeret Matkal and a number of naval commando units, will still not be open to women.

Although women could previously serve in some 88 percent of roles in the military, including a number of combat roles, they are now permitted to try out for three additional combat units that were previously closed to them.

However, the move appears to be largely symbolic.

Women who would potentially try out for these roles will be subject to height, weight, and strength requirements that will likely prove impossible to them to meet, save for a tiny fraction of the population.

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For example, women interested in drafting to the elite Unit 699 need to be at least 1.66 meters tall (5”4.5) and weigh a minimum of 78 kilograms (172 pounds.)

The average Israeli woman is 1.62 meters (5”3), so most would be automatically disqualified for the role. More prohibitive, however, is the weight requirement.

The potential integration of women into more combat roles within the IDF has sparked pushback, both among religious figures concerned with male-female fraternization and others who fear that the effort to include more women will mean lower standards for the units.

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, a former fighter pilot, said during a speech at Reichman University on Tuesday that “there’s no need to go to extremes” when integrating women into combat units.

While “equality is an important value,” he said, it should not trump operational efficiency.

Prominent Religious Zionist rabbis signed an open letter condemning the decision to integrate more women into the units, threatening that they would instruct their followers not to serve in mixed-gender combat divisions.

In fact, Arutz-7 reported, leading Religious Zionist rabbis postponed indefinitely a planned meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi after learning that it was already decided that women could serve in additional combat units. It was the issue they had planned to discuss, as they are vehemently opposed for religious reasons concerning modesty and close physical contact.

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