Following the Chief of Staff's decision on the recruitment of women to the IDF's elite combat units, IDF spokesman Brigadier General Daniel Hagari told Israel National News that the IDF will continue to carefully examine moves according to clear criteria of physical competence.
"The Chief of Staff has decided to open a pilot program for the recruitment of female fighters into the General Staff Reconnaissance (Sayeret Matkal) elite unit in November 2024, which will carried out in an orderly and balanced manner, as part of a commitment to previous decisions and processes in the IDF. Until then, we will determine the means by which this will be carried out," says Brig. Gen. Hagari, while others in the IDF say that women have served in the IDF since its inception, and have made a significant contribution to achieving its goals.
Now, says Hagari, the IDF will outline the means of integration in order to ensure that the move is carried out as smoothly as possible. "We believe that operational success is what guides us, and it is possible,” he emphasizes, noting that the transfer of the mobility unit will be carried out through the 551st Infantry Brigade, which has a greater ability to implement joint service with higher success rates. "We have invested a lot in this, so we will start the pilot there."
On the other hand, says Hagari, the third issue that the Chief of Staff refers to in his response to the High Court of Justice pertains to the infantry mobility corps, to which the heads and rabbis of yeshivas and pre-military academies were promised in the past that no female soldiers would be integrated, "We will be true to ourselves and to the truth, and we will see how we can build on something that will ensure our success. We will find a way to set this up without losing other populations and sectors in the IDF."
Hagari claims that the Chief of Staff is careful to clarify that he is setting a date for the start of the pilot with the infantry mobility corps, even though he has stated that to the best of his experience and judgment, there is a low probability of the success of a female combatant course in Sayeret Matkal, but he respects the decisions of his predecessors and the Supreme Court. There are also risks here, so he will continue examining this until the moment we open the units, and even then, we will continue to examine the situation. In any case, he added, he will be faithful to his professional integrity.
Referring to the concern that an immediate outcome of this move would be a decrease in the enlistment percentage of the youngsters in the religious sector, Hagari says that he "suggests not to let this be our criteria, i.e. where each sector says they will not enlist." Regarding yeshiva heads who have been claiming for years that if there are female soldiers in these units, they will not be able to send their students to serve in the army, Hagari said that he "suggests not to take this approach yet. We are striving to find solutions, and do not want to feel that we are going backward, because of threats from any sector. We need to find the middle path, and currently, it is not right to create a position that will only achieve the opposite goal and play into the hands of those who argue against the religious sector."
"We are listening to the needs of the religious community and the rabbis so that the students will continue to enlist in the IDF," says Hagari, claiming that so far, the process has been successful and many are still enlisting. "I suggest that we uphold the dialogue and ensure that the response involves respect for the IDF's decisions and trust in the IDF to know how to find the right solutions. Threats will only achieve the opposite." According to Hagari, opening the Sayeret Matkal unit to female soldiers will be carried out in a way to ensure the continued recruitment of religious soldiers to the unit.
Won’t this decision cause the dissemination of the IDF? Shouldn’t the Chief of Staff make it clear to the High Court that the IDF’s purpose is to win and therefore it makes decisions that cannot be subject to High Court rulings? "The IDF acts in accordance with its professional position, no one intends to mix male and female soldiers in a tank or in gender-related divisions."
We must be allowed to continue considering the issue. Everyone must trust the IDF to know how to uphold equality, integration, and joint service and also allow people to maintain their integrity without harming them and their feelings. We will live up to these challenges because our mission is clear and our test will be the basic test of competence. Only those who meet and pass the eligibility conditions will be accepted and integrated into the various IDF units."