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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Netanyahu honors Israel’s female troops on International Women’s Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accompanied by female IDF soldiers during a tour of the Jordan Valley, March 8, 2011.

Meeting soldiers during a tour of the Jordan Valley, prime minister says Israel is only country in region ‘in which women have equal rights.’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday by paying tribute to the female soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.

"Today, I am impressed by two things,” the prime minister told female soldiers during a visit to the Jordan Valley. “First, I am impressed by you. There is a revolution in the IDF here. One-third of the IDF's personnel are women. The reason this is not half is because they have a different service period. But this is first.

“Second, 3 percent of the IDF's combat force is women. We see this in all units and in all corps. We have Border Police fighters. We have women in the Air Force, including as pilots. This expresses the change in the status of women in the IDF and in the State of Israel as a whole.”

Netanyahu also highlighted what he called a lack of “revolution in the status of women” in the Middle East, despite the current popular uprisings in Israel’s neighbors. Israel, he said, was the only place “in this huge region,” in which women have equal rights.

“The most basic premise that everyone is talking about has to do with the upheaval in the Arab and Islamic world. One thing we do not see. We still do not see a revolution in the status of women in most of the countries around us,” he said.

“In at least one of them, women have been stoned; women are used like merchandise that passes from hand to hand, without any rights, fairness or ability to demand their rights in genuine courts of law. I think that Israel is exceptional in a very sharp way in this entire region. While it stands out in many respects, it is especially prominent in that it is a democratic state in which women have equal rights. What we see here is also equal obligations, not just rights.

“There are things that must be corrected in our country,” the prime minister continued. “We are taking inventory of the things we need to fix. But I will say that in this huge region, from west of India to Morocco, there is only one place in which women have equal rights and that is the State of Israel. I think that we need to welcome this today. We must especially salute the women soldiers and officers in the IDF. I salute you. May the sun shine on you every day, not just now.”

Women of the IDF

To honor women's service in the IDF in celebration of International Women's Day, the following is a collection of some of the interesting and noteworthy roles women are taking on throughout their service. Women have served in the IDF since its inception, and in Israeli defense organizations before the creation of the State of Israel (exceptional women such as Hannah Senesh and Sarah Aaronsohn, for example). Each year, 1,500 female combat soldiers are drafted into the IDF, a number which has remained consistent in recent years. Female soldiers also play crucial roles in command and control, commanding positions, and many others.