Gender stereotypes? Not in the IDF (Zahal)! In the air, on the ground and in the sea, the IDF (Zahal) is filled with inspiring women who play a vital role in both combat and administrative positions. The following women have all shattered barriers, sending a message that women really can do it all.
Meet Captain Or Cohen, Major Gal, and Captain Efrat Kaikov, three women who fill high-level positions in the IDF (Zahal) and challenge stereotypes through the work they do every day.
Captain Or Cohen, Commander of an Israeli Navy Vessel
On November 26, Captain Or Cohen was appointed as the first female commander of an Israeli Navy vessel. Since graduating from the Naval Officer’s course, Capt. Cohen proved her abilities by participating in two significant IDF (Zahal) operations: Operation Full Disclosure and Operation Protective Edge.
Before being appointed commander of the vessel, Capt. Or. was a navigation officer on a missile ship. In her new role as a deputy commander of a Dvora Patrol Boat, she is in charge of managing operations and emergency situations, and in the future she will be able to command a missile ship.
“The possibility of having command of soldiers on a naval vessel is challenging and interesting, especially in face of the challenges currently facing the navy,” said Capt. Or. “As a female officer in the IDF (Zahal), I believe in incorporating women into significant combat roles.”
Major Gal, Deputy Squadron Commander
Major Gal is the first woman in IDF (Zahal) history appointed to be a deputy commander of an operational squadron. She will be second in command of the “Nachshon” Squadron which performs intelligence missions and air traffic control. The promotion makes her the highest-ranking woman ever in the IAF.
In 2006, Maj. Gal graduated from the Israel Air Force’s Flight Academy. She was a cargo squadron pilot for a significant part of her service. Additionally, she was an instructor in the Israeli Air Force flight academy, and in her most recent job, she was a deputy commander of the ‘Air Kings’ Support Squadron. In 2013, Maj. Gal was awarded a certificate of excellence by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Captain Efrat Kaikov, Artillery Corps Battalion Commander
Captain Efrat Kaikov is the first female battalion commander in the Artillery Corps. She serves in the “Eitam” Battalion, the corps’ meteorology unit.
“There’s still a long way to go until women are fully incorporated into the army, but I think that commanders today understand the importance of women serving in combat roles, and that helps,” said Capt. Kaikov. “It was clear to me that I wanted to serve in a combat role, and I believe that it is important to have female commanders as a part of incorporating women in the army.”