Last week, dozens of highly motivated girls gave their all in the try-outs to become combat soldiers once they finish high school and enlist to the IDF.
Only minutes after arriving at a base in central Israel, the girls entered the race: they ran two kilometers, then did 100 pushups and sit-ups. For hours on end, they competed in physical drills which tested their strength and endurance, including short sprints and repeated weight-lifting.
After a long and exhausting day, the soldiers-to-be were finally allowed to sleep–only to be brought to their feet a few hours later. Despite the arduous day before, but the worst was still to come. They had to run, crawl, and jump more than ever before, never knowing when one physical test would end and the next one would begin.
Lt. Col. Oranit Miller, the base commander, explains what she’s looking for in future soldiers:
“Less than 40 percent of all of the girls who come through these gates actually get to become combat soldiers. Physical fitness isn’t everything we look for in future combat soldiers. Motivation, ambition, and understanding the importance of army service are much more crucial to us. The rest, like fitness–the ability to carry heavy weights and run long distances–we make sure to build up after they recruit.”
“When you come to think about it, it’s absolutely astounding. In today’s age, when many teenagers are occupied with nothing other than Facebook or their own appearance, these girls make tremendous efforts in order to serve for three years in some of the hardest and most challenging of places.”
Today, 92% of all military jobs are available to women in the IDF. Among the available positions for woman are Caracal, a unisex combat unit operating along the border with Egypt, and the elite canine unit Oketz–as well as various artillery and armored divisions. In the 2006 Second Lebanon War, women fought in field operations alongside men for the first time since the 1948 War of Independence.