February 18, 2010
Yael Kidron is 21 years old and a combat soldier in the Israeli Defence Forces’ mixed-sex Karakal Battalion, based in the Negev desert. She argues that it is only fair to allow women to take on physically challenging army roles.I decided to come and serve in a combat unit, because for one thing I grew up with five brothers and I needed to do something physical. It’s not just sitting down and doing paperwork. I wanted to do something more challenging, and this is why I am here. I came to serve in Karakal. It’s a girls and guys unit. You basically do everything like the guys, you work hard. Our base is in the middle of the desert, the middle of nowhere, kind of. We have very nice views here, sunset, sunrise. You’ve got a lot of wide open space here – and a lot of space where they can make you run when you get punished. We live in tents. The tents are very sturdy, although honestly, to go from a nice cosy bed to a tent, living in these little beds… but it’s awesome, I love it. I think it’s a great experience. Every day when I wake up in the morning, I don’t say, ‘Ooh what am I going to wear this morning?’ It’s the same thing every single morning. It’s not a very nice colour of clothing – kind of olive-greenish pants and a shirt. Not feminine We actually name our weapons. I named my gun Jack, Jack Black. Why? Because it’s black, and I like the name. Map showing the Negev desert It’s an Israeli-made machine gun, it’s got nice, smooth shooting. It’s a very comfortable gun. The gun is basically on you every single day. Even when you sleep it has to be under your head. And it’s a very, very, very cool experience, by the way, to shoot with a gun. I love it. It’s not a very feminine weapon at all. It’s actually more manly than some of the other weapons that they have, but that’s the whole point of being in a combat unit – you’re not feminine. Only when you go home that’s when you can be a little more feminine, in your own time. Snipers What we end up doing, after all the training, when it comes to an actual war, we guard the borders and we make sure nothing comes in. It’s a very important job, because honestly you can’t do without your support group, and that is what we basically are for the men. I think the fact that Israel has girls in combat units is a good idea. I think it is only fair that they let us be part of the actual physical, challenging jobs. I told my dad that I wanted to go into paratroopers like my brother, and he started laughing at me. He said, ‘You know there’s no girls in paratroopers.’ So that was kind of a let-down. Right now, women in combat units can be snipers, combat doctors, officers. There are also women who go into the pilot unit. The rest of the world should also consider having girls in the army, because we have a lot to offer. I think it’s vital for the army. It makes it better.