Gadi Eizenkot
Gadi EizenkotFlash 90

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot is expected to reject an appeal to make changes in a controversial new policy regarding the integration of male and female IDF soldiers, despite protests from leading Religious Zionist rabbis.

According to a new report in Maariv, Eizenkot has decided to reject appeals from the Religious Zionist sector to nix changes to army guidelines and allow religiously-observant IDF officers to refuse to take command positions over female soldiers due to modesty issues which transgress halakha. According to the report, the wording of the controversial new directive will be changed slightly to mollify religious soldiers, but no substantive changes will be made.

The report also claimed that Eizenkot met last Friday with four left-wing Knesset members who are pushing for greater integration of women in the IDF - Merav Michaeli and Ayelet Nahmias-Horbin from the Zionist Union and Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rozin of Meretz.

The new guidelines, which are called the Joint Service Order, has raised alarm among religious soldiers, who contend that their religious rights are being trampled on. Unlike the existing policy, the Joint Service Order does not exempt soldiers from any activity considered to be heritage education or from military memorial ceremonies, even if they include women singing, a halakhic problem. Decisions regarding other activities will be subject to the commander's discretion. The IDF, before the feminist groups convinced it that this was misogyny, always allowed soldiers whose level of religious observance did not permit hearing women singing to decide not to attend.those performances.

On Sunday, the IDF announced that 13 female soldiers who finished tank corps training are to begin operational activity in the coming days. The soldiers are part of a pilot program that aims to assess whether women are physically capable to handle the arduous conditions that handling a tank requires, such as loading heavy tank shells. The IDF has admitted that the training they received was on a lower standard than that of male soldiers.