An increasing amount of criticism is being heard from both rabbis and military officers regarding members of the opposite sex serving together as well as about women serving in combat roles. According to the parents of both Keren Tendler and Keren Yaacobi, may they rest in peace, this criticism is “outrageous.”

Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

The number of women serving in combat roles in the IDF reached this year an all-time high while at the same time, there’s an increasing amount of criticism regarding members of the opposite sex serving together as well as about women serving in combat roles coming from both rabbis and military officers.

The parents of both the late Keren Tendler and Keren Yaacobi believe that despite the voices of criticism, their daughters were equal to anyone else on the field of battle.

Sergeant Major Tendler was Israel’s first female helicopter flight mechanic after a court allowed women to serve in combat positions. Tendler was killed during the 2006 Second Lebanon War along with four other crew members, when their helicopter, a CH-53 Sea Stallion Yas’ur, was shot down by Hezbollah upon taking off in Lebanon, two days before the end of the conflict.

Rivana Tendler said: “As a mother of a hero hearing those things, it is shameful.” The mother of the first female Israeli soldier to die on active duty since 2002 also said following the remarks made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein: “This rabbi was talking nonsense and he’s not the first I’m afraid. Lieberman should have fired him.”

Corporal Keren Ya’akobi was recruited to the Military Police. She requested a combat role and was assigned to the Sahleb Unit stationed in Hebron. Although she was given the option of beginning officers’ training, she preferred to remain within the unit to complete her combat training. In 2012, soldiers from the Sahleb Unit of the Military Police were guarding a position near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Two terrorists opened fire at very close range, leaving them no chance to return the fire. Corporal Keren Ya’akobi was killed instantly, making Corporal Ya’akobi the first female fatality in the IDF to die on active duty.

Her father Yigal Ya’akobi proclaimed that the silence of politicians in light of such remarks made against women in the IDF is “a thing that personally hurts” him. In a moving post that he wrote, he called for the Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces to fight for the rights of women in the IDF: “A teacher, working in a public institution no less, expressing himself in such a way against women serving in the military is shameful.  He turned our daughters into non-Jews simply because they serve in the IDF, and the prime minister and everyone else remains silent.” 

First Sergeant Adar, serving in the exact role that Keren Tendler did, commented on the controversy: “Whoever wants to serve should not be stopped. The women here are equals.”