Women of the Hagana
photo gallery

The 1924 constitution declared that the Hagana welcomes every Jewish man and woman.
Section G states that the organization welcomes any Jewish man or woman willing and able to fulfill their national defense duty. Further more, it was determined that Hagana membership is both a privilege and duty of every man and woman in the Yishuv.
Women were members of the Hashomer and the Pioneers' Movement. The Hagana's command was forced to recruit women into various positions because of the constant need for manpower.
Their determination to succeed enabled the women to fill important and essential roles.
Hagana women filled the same support roles as other women in most of the armies around the world. Only a few held combat roles comparable to those of the men.
In the collective agricultural settlements army service was compulsory, whereas in cities and towns women chose to enlist along with the men. They served mainly as combat paramedics, wireless operators and in armories.
Due to their growing numbers, after the Arab riots of 1929, special female training programs were initiated in which women were trained to use weapons.
In 1936, female Kibbutz members gathered in Giv'at Hashelosha demanding to be included in defense duties, as a consequence of which was they were allowed to enlist and some were even sent to army courses. In 1937 the first officer training course for women was held in Gevat (Korsa). Women served in Hish( Field Combat Corps), training and fighting alongside the men. During World War II, questions related to recruitment of women into the British Army, their roles in the defense force, and substituting for men who enlisted in the British Army were raised. In spite of the Yishuv and the British Army's objection, 4,000 women volunteered to the A.T.S and to the W.A.A.F. Women served as officers, administrators, drivers, wireless operators, storekeepers, army clerks, parachute folders, gunsmiths, nurses and cooks. The accumulated experience was passed on to the Hagana and the IDF's Women's Corps.
Three female Hagana members volunteered to parachute behind enemy lines in Europe. Hannah Senesh and Haviva Reich were captured, tortured and were executed.
The establishment of the Palmach in 1941 provided women with new challenges.
Commanders were reluctant to enlist women, despite the fact that their numbers increased as the Palmach grew, and they demanded to be recognized as equals. Women held commanding positions (9 Platoon officers and many squad officers) and professional roles as a result of their persistence in performing the same as the men. The number of women in the Palmach grew substantially after the recruitment of the Hachsharot. Women fought alongside the men throughout the struggle, demanding the right to use weapons and to hold combat positions in Hagana city units.
In 1941 a female battalion including 4 companies was established in Tel-Aviv. The women trained their own officers and filled various positions: defense, weapons transportation, wireless communications, manning defense posts, antiaircraft posts, convoy escort, gunsmiths, first aid, and welfare and hospital roles.
The Fighting Women's Battalion, established in Haifa, participated in the defensive operations during the War of Independence, under the command of officers trained in Ju'ara.
At the beginning of the War of Independence, Hagana women held vital combat and support roles in the Field Combat Corps and the Palmach. One of their most important tasks was escorting convoys. A large number of women served in highly operational units that suffered high casualty rates. On the other hand, women were needed more in support and administration positions as a result of the escalation in fighting and the increasing need for male fighters. High command ordered the transfer of women from combat positions to support positions, and only a few remained in combat roles, such as Zohara Levitov, a pilot who was killed in action. Women defended the collective agricultural labor settlements together with the men.
35 women were killed in action during their service in the Hagana prior to the War of Independence. Dozens were killed in action during the war itself. Chen, the Women's Corps, under the command of Minna Rogozick Ben Tzvi, was established toward the Declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. The same principles were applied to female enlistment in the IDF.