Only one of 11 women accepted for entrance tests into the IAF ‘s elite 669th search and rescue unit passed the first round of investigation, the IDF announced on Sunday.
The test day was carried out using the same training models and standards used up to now for similar elite units for men.
To enter Unit 669, the only woman who passed the first round of tests will have to pass a generic second round identical to all candidates and a more individualized third round.
An IDF source said that even the individualized third round would remain within the same parameters given to the men in that round.
A KAN video showed the 11 women and a large group of men performing various physical tasks on a beach.
The candidates had to run, lift heavy objects, climb, swim, alternate between moving through the water on their feet and going back under the water, wrestling (men only wrestled with men and women with women), and other physically difficult feats.
From now on, the only female candidate will have to face the men directly during any group training or fighting exercise.
The long struggle of women to enter the elite fighting units of the IDF
Even getting to the point where women can be considered for such a unit has been a long and winding road.
In response to pressure from a petition filed with the High Court of Justice a few years ago, the IDF’s top brass has opened up a few new combat units to women.
Among them are the Yahalom Combat Engineering Unit and the mobile deployment units of the Infantry Corps. in summer. That woman could compete for places in the IAF Search and Rescue Unit 669 was not announced until October and has not been realized until now.
Some groups still consider this progress insufficient. They point out that there are other armies where women are already allowed to serve in all elite combat units. Even so, there is no doubt that the recent trend has been greater integration of women into units they were previously unable to serve.
In a hearing on December 8, the High Court of Justice appeared to side with the IDF in barring women from serving in Sayeret Matkal, an army commando unit that goes behind enemy lines; the Shayetet 13 naval commandos, the IAF special forces unit Shaldag, the IDF Commando Brigade and the Israel Navy Submarine Unit.
Although the petitioners noted that even the most liberal approach to women forces them to meet double standards that men do not always have to meet in terms of height, weight, and other criteria, the justices seemed content to entangle the issue in delays—proceedings for several months or more.
The IDF itself commissioned a two-year study before integrating women into combat units, less than other armies already do.