A group of high ranking reservist IDF officers and civilians says that there is "an epidemic" of hip stress fractures, ruptured discs and uterine prolapse among women serving in the IDF's combat units.
They claim that this rash of injuries – some of which have permanent effects and can affect a women's chances of bearing children – is hidden by militant feminists for political reasons.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Col. (res.) Raz Sagi, spokesman for the Forum for a Strong IDF (FSIDF), explained that the IDF's ongoing experiment in placing women in combat units has had terrible consequences for a relatively large percentage of the female soldiers, who suffer worse injuries than young men, and are also more likely to be injured.
Sagi was referring to injuries incurred in training and the routine of service in combat units – not injuries from actual combat or enemy fire.
Sagi's interview appears timed as a reply to the latest campaign by women's groups and leftist elements, which have been attacking religious soldiers over their alleged insensitivity to women in the IDF. A group of left-leaning former generals accused the religious soldiers of trying "to remove women from instruction, combat and combat support roles on religious grounds; separation of women in events, preventing them from singing in ceremonies" and hampering "the advancement of women in the IDF command structure."
"Keeping women out of a variety of core roles hurts women on the basis of gender and forces norms of behavior that fit a small part of the religious populace upon the entire army," the generals wrote.
Sagi noted that he is not a religious person at all and that the problem has nothing to do with religion. "Statistically," he explained, "women are shorter, their bones are weaker, that is how they were born, it is nothing to get angry about."
In 2011, he added, a joint study by the IDF and the US Army determined that women cannot be placed in combat roles because of physiological differences between men and women.
IDF combat units go out of their way to reduce physical demands for accepting women into their ranks and keeping them there, Sagi revealed. Despite this – the injuries continue. Whereas men are more likely to suffer stress fractures in the shin bone, women are more likely to suffer them in the pelvis – making for a more serious injury, he said.
The agenda led by women's groups winds up damaging women's health, Sagi said. "If they want equality they should implement it in medicine or law studies. In the army, we have operational considerations: is it good for the military as an effective fighting force or not."
"The campaign by women's groups notwithstanding, only 3% of women who enlist opt for combat," he said, "and those who do so often drop out along the way. There are entire battalions that fall apart in mid-track because of physical damage to the girls."