The IDF's mixed-sex Caracal unit apparently has reasons for both pride and embarrassment following the firefight on the border with Egypt that left one soldier and three terrorists dead.
The pride is due to the fact that one of the unit's female fighters, a markswoman identified only by the initial S., took part in the assault on the terrorists and shot one of them to death. The embarrassment is due to reports that another female combat soldier cowered behind a bush for over an hour, causing fear that she had been abducted.
S. has been feted by the media, which has been enamored with the IDF's women-in-combat program for more than a decade.
On Sunday, however, reports from the IDF's initial inquiry into the firefight revealed that another female soldier from Caracal behaved in a way that could cast doubt on the entire logic behind the creation of mixed-sex units.
The soldier, who serves in Caracal's reconnaissance unit, was near the Artillery Corps force that came under fire when the incident began. The rest of her unit was not far away at the time. She radioed to her unit that the force had come under fire, but then proceeded to hide behind a Hummer vehicle's tire, with her weapon's safety catch still on. She proceeded from there to a bush, where she hid for over an hour. At no point did she open fire at the terrorists, according to the initial details from the investigation.
Voice of Israel radio reported that the soldier called her mother during the firefight and shouted "gunfire!" into the phone. The mother heard the firefight through the telephone.
Once the firefight had ended, the unit's commanders counted the soldiers to make sure no one was missing. They became extremely worried when it turned out that they were one soldier short. According to reports, the IDF was convinced at this point that the female soldier had been abducted – a nightmare scenario for the IDF, especially since the Gilad Shalit affair, and a double nightmare if a female soldier is involved.
A search was mounted and the missing soldier was eventually located. She explained her behavior by saying that she thought she had "no chance" against the terrorists and that she was afraid she would find herself in a "friendly fire" exchange with the Artillery Corps force. The Regional Brigade commander reprimanded her for behavior, and reportedly told her: "You got scared, you ran away and you did not strive to make contact [with the enemy]." She is said to be in a bad state psychologically.
The IDF Spokesman denied the reports about the less-than-courageous performance and said that they were based on bits and pieces of the inquiry, which has not yet ended.
The placement of women in the IDF's combat units, and the general advancement of women into senior ranks, has been a flagship project of Israeli women's organizations such as the Israel Women's Network, created and maintained by the ultra-leftist New Israel Fund.
Due to the great influence wielded by the leftist-controlled women's groups, criticism of the feminization project has been stifled and mainstream publications refrain from publishing reports on the problematic nature of the experiment. The only English-language publication that has dealt with the subject is Arutz Sheva.
MK Yaakov Katz has told the Knesset that military research shows female soldiers' health – including reproductive health – is greatly endangered by service in combat units.