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Gender not frontline issue in Israel

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Kurska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 11:07 AM
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Gender not frontline issue in Israel
"FOR women pushing to take combat roles in the Australian Defence Force, it may be a case of being careful what you wish for.

The Israeli Defence Forces have had women in combat roles since the 1980s, leading to situations such as that which 21-year-old Maya Melamed found herself in recently.

Under fire from Hamas during this year's Gaza war, Melamed spent a week inside a tank as the only woman.

"You're stuck in a tank for a week with men and you don't shower and you need to live with them 24/7 for a long period of time," she says. "It's hard because, as women, we have our needs, we need our privacy sometimes."

During that week, Melamed realised that if they turned the tank's gun in a certain direction, it gave her a private area inside where she was free to attend to her needs.

"For a week we haven't stepped outside the tank," she says. "We need to do everything inside the tank. We find all kind of original ways to do whatever we need to do, funny ways to shower, and I think they really saw me as one of them and that helped, but it wasn't easy at all."

After three years in a frontline role, mainly in the West Bank, Melamed insists women can make better soldiers. She says that, in modern warfare, mental toughness is more important than physical strength.

Defence Personnel and Science Minister Greg Combet recently floated the possibility of removing gender restrictions for specialised categories in the ADF, including the SAS and commando units.

In Israel, the debate over whether women should serve at the front line seems decades in the past. More than 90 per cent of jobs in the IDF are open to women and, in combat units open to women, 17 per cent of the fighters are female. One unit on the Israeli-Egyptian border almost entirely comprises women. More than 40 per cent of officers in the IDF are women.

Israel does not release details on how many men or women have been killed on duty",25197,2612...
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