Women have proudly served in the IDF since the very beginning. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, wrote an impassioned letter to religious communities outlining the necessity of women serving and protecting Israel. Since then, women have taken increasingly high-level positions in the IDF. These female Israeli soldiers challenge stereotypes through the work they do every day.
1. Lt. Shelly Markheva, IDF Intelligence Commander
Shelly Marhevka is an IDF intelligence commander who keeps watch over Israel’s southern border. In the event of a terrorist infiltration, Shelly and her soldiers are those responsible for detecting and thwarting an attack.
2. Cpl. Dylan Ostrin, Combat Engineering Corps Explosives Expert
Corporal Dylan Ostrin made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from the US at the age of seven with her family. Today, Cpl. Ostrin is an explosives instructor in the Combat Engineering Corps. She teaches all things explosive: from how to handle the explosives themselves to utilizing them in operations, such as gaining access to buildings. She has already begun receiving job offers to work on bomb squads and similar security-related teams both in Israel and abroad.
3. Lt. Amit Danon, Gymnastics Champion & Combat Platoon Commander
Lt. Amit Danon was the Israeli national champion in rhythmic gymnastics when she enlisted in the IDF. After embarking on her path as a soldier, she decided to leave her previous life behind and became a combat officer in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion. Lt. Danon now leads other soldiers as platoon commander.
4. Sgt. Sarit Petersen, Nahal Infantry Brigade Shooting Instructor
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Sgt. Petersen currently serves as a shooting instructor in the Nahal Infantry Brigade. The soldiers she commands range from brand new to advanced; the advanced soldiers are part of the reconnaissance brigade. As a shooting instructor, Sgt. Petersen is responsible for teaching a soldier about weapons and how to use them.
5. First Sgt. Monaliza Abdo, Arab-Israeli Combat Soldier
First Sgt. Monaliza Abdo is an Arab-Israeli woman who proudly served her country as a combat soldier. She wasn’t required to enlist, but her determination to protect Israel motivated her to volunteer. As a fighter on Israel’s southern border, she rose through the ranks to become a commander, teaching soldiers how to combat terrorism and other threats. Just a few weeks ago, she honorably completed three years of service – one more than the required number for Israeli women.
6. Pvt. Or Meidan, Iron Dome Missile Defense System Operator
Or Meidan moved from Uganda to Israel as a teenager. During Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, the area around her kibbutz was pounded by missiles from Gaza. Today, she serves as an operator in the Iron Dome missile defense system.
7. Sgt. Noa Goren, Commander Working With New Immigrants
Sgt. Noa Goren serves as a commander in the IDF unit responsible for absorbing new immigrant soldiers. “What can unify a squad that is mixed with French, Brazilians, Italians and Australians, if not learning the Hebrew language and sharing one goal?” Noa asks . “I need to consider that these new immigrants are arriving frightened, and it is my responsibility to know where to start and how to begin working with them.”