HomeWorldIsraeli women fight on frontline, a first - Times of India

Israeli women fight on frontline, a first – Times of India

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GAZA STRIP: When Captain Amit Busi gets a chance to sleep, she does so with her boots on – and in a shared tent in an improvised Israeli military post in the northern Gaza Strip. There she commands a company of 83 soldiers, nearly half of them men. It is one of several mixed-gender units fighting in Gaza, where female combat soldiers and officers are serving on the frontline for the first time since the war surrounding the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Busi is responsible not just for the lives of her subordinates – search-and-rescue engineers whose specialized training and tools help infantry troops enter damaged and booby-trapped buildings at risk of collapse – but also for the wounded soldiers they help evacuate from the battlefield. She and her soldiers also help scour the area for fighters, weapons and rocket launchers and are responsible for guarding the camp.
It can be easy to forget Busi is only 23, given the respect she has earned from her subordinates – Jews, Druze and Bedouin Muslim men. “The borders have been blurred,” Busi said of the decades-long limits on the roles of female combat troops in Israel. The military, she said, “needs us, so we are here.” Since Israeli ground forces entered Gaza in late Oct, women have been there fighting. Their inclusion has helped bolster the image of the army domestically after the intelligence and military failures of Oct 7.
The integration of women into the military’s combat units has been the subject of a lengthy debate in Israel, home to one of the world’s few armies that conscript women at 18 for mandatory service. For years the question of women serving at the front pitted ultraconservative rabbis and religiously observant soldiers against feminists, secularists and critics of the country’s traditionally macho culture. Now, that debate is effectively over. There is no point continuing such arguments, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, the military’s chief of staff, said after female soldiers raced to confront Hamas attackers, because their “action and fighting” speaks louder than words.

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