Tankist dream deferred, female participants still high on their service

“Judge me on my abilities, not my reproductive organs,” says one who insists that the controversial pilot in the Armored Corps was a success.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday, Yediot Ahronot interviewed three of the IDF’s first four female tank commanders who successfully passed a tank pilot program for women, but were then put into infantry combat units instead of the Armored Corps.

The IDF ran an experimental program in 2018 for women to become tank crew members, with 10 eventually passing the course, and four going for extra training to become commanders.

However, the Army decided last April not to integrate the women in the Armored Corps, with cost of the extra needed infrastructure being cited as a major factor in the decision.

After two new female draftees petitioned the Supreme Court for the right to serve in tanks and those who passed the course joined them, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi reversed the decision in January and dozens of female trainees are currently participating in a second pilot.

According to anonymous officers speaking to Arutz 7 and 0404 before Kochavi’s decision, what the army didn’t tell the media was that the women were passed even though they could not do their tasks within the timeframe demanded of the men.

This included taking twice or three times as long to load shells, fire the first shell, and carry out rapid firing. It was also claimed that the women had “mental difficulties” during missions, and that the physical demands on their bodies were just too much for them.

Osnat Levy of Jerusalem insisted that the criticism was untrue.

“There is so much fake news about our experiment,” she said, “about women’s physical abilities in general. Why do they worry about our pelvic floor in the Armored Corps but not about the pelvic floor of every woman who gives birth?”

“Judge me on my abilities, not my reproductive organs,” she said.

Army statistics do point to problems with physical ability among women in comparison to men. In 2018, Arutz 7 reported that 46 percent of women in combat roles failed their annual fitness exam, as opposed to just 10 percent among the men.

In 2017, the chief of staff’s adviser on gender issues reported that women suffer more lower back and knee pain, heat injuries, anemia and urinary tract infections than male soldiers.

In another study in 2013 performed on over 2,500 female recruits, the overall rate of stress fractures was over four times higher for women than men – 11.2 percent versus only 2.5 percent.

However, the three tank commanders are firm in their view that other women could follow their groundbreaking path and succeed where they had been blocked. Saying that that they had loved their work in the tanks, they expressed optimism about the future of women in the Armored Corps.

“Things are changing slowly, but they’re changing,” said Shiran Tetroashvili.