Country Listing

Israel Table of Contents


Women in the IDF

Standards for admission to the IDF were considerably higher for women, and exemptions were given much more freely. Only about 50 percent of the approximately 30,000 females eligible annually were inducted. Nearly 20 percent of eligible women were exempted for "religious reasons"; nearly 10 percent because they were married; and most of the remaining 20 percent were rejected as not meeting minimum educational standards (eighth grade during the 1980s). A law passed in 1978 made exemptions for women on religious grounds automatic upon the signing of a simple declaration attesting to the observance of orthodox religious practices. This legislation raised considerable controversy, and IDF officials feared that the exemption could be abused by any nonreligious woman who did not wish to serve and thus further exacerbate the already strained personnel resources of the IDF. Women exempted on religious grounds were legally obliged to fulfill a period of alternative service doing social or educational work assigned to them. In practice, however, women performed such service only on a voluntary basis.

Female conscripts served in the Women's Army Corps, commonly known by its Hebrew acronym, Chen. After a five-week period of basic training, women served as clerks, drivers, welfare workers, nurses, radio operators, flight controllers, ordnance personnel, and course instructors. Women had not engaged in direct combat since the War of Independence.

Data as of December 1988