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Thursday, May 26, 2011

IDF makes history: First woman to be made major-general

Defense Minister Barak approves appointment of Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbivai; Livni: "There is no rank that is too heavy for a woman’s shoulders."

Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, deputy head of the army’s Human Resources Directorate, will make history in a few weeks when she becomes the IDF’s first-ever female major-general.

Barbivai, 49, and a mother of three, will replace current head of the directorate Maj.- Gen. Avi Zamir, who is retiring.

Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz recommended the appointment, subsequently approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

While women have served before on the General Staff, it was only in the position of IDF spokesperson, who holds the rank of brigadier-general.

Barbivai has served her entire IDF career in the directorate. She climbed the ranks and served in the past as the head of human resources in the Ground Forces Command, as well as the head of the IDF Adjutancy Corp.

Other appointments announced on Thursday included moving OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan to the Northern Command in place of Maj.- Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who has been in the post for five years.

Eizenkot will take a year off and serve as a research fellow in an Israeli think tank, and then return as deputy chief of General Staff in place of Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh. Both men will then compete to replace Gantz in 2014.

Golan will be replaced by Brig.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg, who will be promoted to the rank of major-general. Eizenberg commanded the Gaza Division during Operation Cast Lead two years ago.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni praised Gantz for the decision to promote Barbivai.

“There is no rank that is too heavy for a woman’s shoulders, and there is no doubt that Brig.-Gen. Barbivai was appointed because of her talents,” Livni said.

In 1986, Amira Dotan, later a Kadima MK, became the IDF’s first female brigadier-general, as head of the Women’s Corps that existed from 1949 to 2001.