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Israeli army to resume women tank crew trials

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Jerusalem (AFP)

The Israeli army announced Sunday it would resume a pilot programme to train all-female tank crews, countering recent reports it had decided to shelve the plan.

The announcement came days after two women petitioned the supreme court to be admitted to the armoured corps as combat soldiers.

Following discussions, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi decided "to progress to the next level in the process of examining the integration of female tank crew members in border defence missions," an army statement read.

The pilot programme began in 2017 by training 10 women crew members and two tank commanders, who were returned to their original units after the trial.

Supporters of female military integration criticised a subsequent lack of action. They accused the military of buckling to pressure from opponents of joint service who doubted the ability of women to endure the physical demands required of tank crews.

In its Sunday statement, the army said the next stage of the pilot programme would include a "female-tailored training programme highlighting medicine, nutrition and physical training."

The army also said women tank operators would form part of the border defence as part of the pilot.

"At the end of the training and operational phases, a situation assessment will be held and new decisions will be made," the army said.

On Thursday, two young women petitioned Israel's top court demanding the army admit them to a combat tank crew.

That followed a similar petition recently presented by the two women trained as tank commanders in the pilot programme.

Israel already has men and women serving together in combat infantry units, as well as female pilots.

Military service is compulsory for most Israelis, with men serving two years and eight months and women two years.

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