Israel: West Bank Settlers opposed to be protected by female soldiers

    At least two West Bank outposts under the protection of the Israel Defense Forces have refused to allow female soldiers to guard the area, according to a Thursday television report.

    Residents of the two outposts — Givat Asaf and Ahia — prefer to hire private security to protect them when the military has no male soldiers available for the job, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

    According to the network, the IDF cooperates with the outposts’ requests by only sending male soldiers, but does not go out of its way to make special arrangements if it is short-staffed.

    The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council told the broadcaster that as the population of those outposts are religiously observant Jews, having female soldiers in the area would be a “modesty problem.”

    Illustrative: Female soldiers of the Military Police Erez Battalion at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, on December 22, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

    The IDF told the network that “the division of soldiers for tasks of defending localities in Judea and Samaria is carried out in accordance with operational considerations. The IDF integrates male and female soldiers for these missions and works to prevent gender-based exclusion.” It added that the allegations raised by the network will be examined.

    While the international community considers all settlement activity illegal, Israel differentiates between legal settlement homes built and permitted by the Defense Ministry on land owned by the state, and illegal outposts built without necessary permits, often on private Palestinian land. However, outposts are often erected with the state’s tacit approval and successive government’s have sought to legalize at least some of the wildcat neighborhoods as a result.

    Some 120 outposts exist throughout the West Bank. Roughly a dozen of them look like established towns with hundreds of families. About 60 outposts are small agricultural communes that often only house a handful of families with little infrastructure. A similar number of outposts are tiny “settlement points” often consisting of a makeshift structure or two where ultra-nationalist teens known as hilltop youth live.

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