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IDF’s first co-ed combat battalion ready for operation

Unit was formed last November, training is completed and  is ready for service

Soldiers of the Caracal Battalion seen cheering while carrying a fellow soldier on a stretcher at the end of their journey to complete their training course, in Tel Nitzan, southern Israel, near the border with Egypt, September 3, 2014. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Israeli military’s 49th battalion, named Panther, will be going operational in the coming weeks, according to an announcement from the Israel Defense Forces.

Panther is a co-ed battalion that was established in November to defend the security barrier in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank. When the unit was created, the IDF said the training period would last six months and with the first essential round of training complete, the battalion is now ready for operation.

The battalion is part of the IDF’s Border Defense Corp and will join other border defense units, such as the Caracal, the Bardelas, the Lions of the Jordan Valley and Lions of the Valley battalions.

IDF Border Defense Corps troops do not enter enemy territory and, therefore, are not required to carry the same military equipment as heavy infantry units. Because  of this, heavy-infantry units like the Givati, Golani, Kfir and Nahal and Paratrooper Brigades will be relieved from having to perform border duties.

During Operation Break the Wave, a counterterrorism operation that began in March 2022 to deter terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, the IDF realized it needed regular forces focused on border security rather than depending on reservists. Israel’s military reserve units often fluctuate in size and readiness, as reservists come in and out of military service on a frequent basis.

In addition, the IDF has identified the Border Defense Corps battalions as ideal units for co-ed integration.

About 90% of IDF positions are open to women, with the exception of heavy infantry and elite special operations units.

Three years ago, the IDF formed a committee to evaluate women serving in combat positions and the debate has continued even through today in Israel, where military service is mandatory and conflicts are frequent

On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant responded to criticism about co-ed combat units, following the killing of three IDF soldiers on the Egyptian border.

“Female and male IDF combat soldiers are one and the same. There is no difference between men and women in my view,” Gallant told the Knesset.

He also noted that women serve in a variety of roles in the IDF, including “pilots, sailors, commanders and fighters.”

“I am very proud of the female IDF fighters and what they are doing,” Gallant added, noting that his own daughter served in the Border Defense Corps’ Caracal Battalion/

The IDF promoted Maj. Aviv Ohana to the lieutenant-colonel and appointed him as commander of the Panther Battalion.

 “I am excited to continue on my path, as part of the family of the border protection forces, as the first to lead the Panther battalion, which constitutes yet another proof of the importance of the mixed female-male combat units on the borders, which are making significant daily achievements on the different fronts,” Ohana said.

Read more: IDF

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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