Women in Battle

Photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson
Date: 16/01/2009, 6:05 PM     Author: Rani Sneh

For years and years female IDF (Zahal) soldiers have constituted an inseparable part of the battle system of the Israeli army. Just like the boys, the girls can be found in all of the combat branches, operate in the most dangerous territories, the most complicated places and take part in important projects. It seems that Operation Cast Lead, which has been carried out in the past few weeks, shows how hard as lead girls in the Israel Defense Forces really are.

In one of the war rooms on a military base of the Gaza Division, sit the female look-outs of the Ofek Company, part of the Field Intelligence Corps Battalion Nesher. Private Hen Moshe, who only recently finished her instruction period, talks a little about what she has gone through since the beginning of the operation. “I saw the soldiers of the Givati Brigade go in, I accompanied them from the entrance to the depth, and only when I finished my shift, I understood my task, and how important it is to see everything.” The commander of the company, Cpt. Inbal Peretz, explains that the mission of the look-outs is to scan the terrain to aid the forces in the field and their mission – “whether it’s giving a situation report of the field in advance, or during the targeting” – and in addition to observe the security fence, with observation posts in the field and patrols of forces in the area. “The conditions of the operation give the girls a sense of responsibility, of dedication and being an emissary,” says Cpt. Peretz.

Even though the girls are a minority in the unit, their presence is felt and they are an operating and even leading force. The anti-aircraft squadron “Eye of the Storm” is one example. The girls in the company volunteer for combat service, go through basic training with the boys of the Artillery Corps and serve three years – just like the boys. “Our task is to identify every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip and activate a siren in the right place, whether that is Sderot, Ashkelon or Ashdod,” says the commander of the squadron, Cpt. Shlomit Tako. “We know how to inform the relevant factors in the Home Front Command and give precise information about the hitting point and close the circle in terms of shooting down and hitting.” Cpt. Tako says that the spirit within the squadron is very high, thanks to the importance of their task and the visible effects in the field. “When they report on the news about a rocket attack in which no one was wounded – there is no bigger satisfaction. The fact that the lives of the people living close to the Gaza Strip are saved thanks to the girls’ alertness, increases the motivation for the task.” She adds that the atmosphere in the squadron is very good because of the personal quality of its soldiers. “Everyone is friends with everyone, you also enjoy yourself and don’t just save lives. This is a squadron that you can be proud of and that does great work. We see that every day.”

Dirty ground and cold air also do not scare the brave soldier girls of the IDF (Zahal). In the Artillery Company, which is part of the operations in the Gaza Strip, more than a quarter of the soldiers are girls. “We constitute an essential artery,” says says Second Lieutenant Moria Weitzman, team vice-commander. “When mortar shells are fired at Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, we close the fire circle.” She also says that the Company is vastly successful. “There are a lot of full circles, terror operatives were hit and soldiers were saved thanks to the intensive work of the Company. Everyone in the Company understands the great importance of the work and I personally am very satisfied.”