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Women of the Israel Defense Forces Air Force, Navy, & Special Forces


Female paramedics in the elite Unit-669

From Israel's founding in 1948 until the mid-1990's, women were excluded from serving as pilots in the Israeli Air Force and from joining Special Forces units.

In 1997, on appeal from Alice Miller who filed with the Israeli Supreme Court for acceptance into IDF's highly elite Air Force flight school, the IDF began to change its policy toward women in these highly coveted combat positions.

In 2000, the Equality amendment to the Defense Service Law stated that the right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men, and from that point forward women have joined many elite units in the IDF.

In 2001, Lt. Roni Zuckerman became the fourth woman to complete the arduous Air Force training and first ever to reach the status of combat fighter pilot. Four years later, a second female passed the intensive fighter pilot course and two other female soldiers graduated to serve as transport pilots. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, female helicopter pilots took part in field missions alongside their male counterparts.

In December 2011, five female pilots completed flight school at the 163rd graduation ceremony of the Israeli Air Force Flight Academy.

 

There are also female operators in various roles in Special Forces units, including:

  • YAMAG
  • Unit 669
  • YABAN
  • Oket'z

Since Alice Miller's 1997 appeal, thirty eight females have recieved pilot's wings from the Israeli Air Force.  This group includes sixteen combat navigators, three combat pilots, seven helicopter pilots, and twelve cargo pilots. 

In October 2015, 24 year old Or Cohen became the first female to be appointed commander of a Naval combat vessel, Dvora ship 817. 

The IAF appointed their first female squadron leader in August 2018.  Major G. was appointed commander of the 122 Air Intelligence Squadron, which includes five gulfstream jets.  She began her IDF service in 2003, where she trained as a transport plane pilot.  

In September 2019, Lt. Col. G. (last names of active-duty soldiers are not published) became the first woman to command an Israeli Air Force squadron. The 35-year-old joined the IDF in 2003 and became a specialist in piloting transport aircraft. She subsequently served as deputy commander of the Nachshon Squadron, which operates surveillance aircraft before being promoted to commander.

 “Lt. Col. G, the mother of two boys, is a role model and an inspiration to thousands of women in the State of Israel,” said IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. “Well done, our first operational squadron commander in the air force. We have been waiting for this for 71 years.”


Sources: Israeli Special Forces;
Mitch Ginsburg. “38 IAF Female Pilots Shatter the Glass Firmament,” Times of Israel, (December 28, 2014);
Ahiya Raved. “Meet Israel's First Ever Female Naval Commander,” Ynet News (October 20, 2015);
Anna Ahronheim. IAF Gets First Female Squadron Leader, Jerusalem Post, (August 8, 2018);
Lilach Shoval, “IAF pilot makes history as first female squadron commander,” Israel Hayom, (September 25, 2019).