|Service/branch||Combat Medic, Medical Corps|
|Years of service||April 2009 –|
|Unit||Caracal Battalion, Infantry Corps|
|Elinor Joseph in uniform—IDF Spokesperson|
|With Tavor assault rifle—Nrg Ma'ariv|
Elinor Joseph (Hebrew: אלינור ג'וזף, Arabic: آلينور جوزف; born 1991 in Jish, Israel) is an Israeli soldier who has served with the Caracal Battalion of the Israel Defense Forces since 2010. She is the first Arab woman ever to serve in a combat role in the Israeli army.
Elinor Joseph was born into a Christian family from the Arab village of Jish (Gush Halav) in northern Israel. Her parents are Charbel and Warda Joseph and she has an older sister, Lauren. Charbel served in the Israeli Paratroopers Brigade. The Joseph family relocated to the Arab neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas in Haifa when Elinor was young.
Enlistment and training
When Elinor graduated high school, her father encouraged her to enlist in the IDF. Though initially opposed to the idea, she gradually cottoned to it and cultivated an ambition to serve as a combat medic. However, upon arriving at the recruitment base, she was informed that she had already been ordained to serve as an office clerk. Deeply disappointed, Elinor refused to be transported out to a new base, until finally, after several days, a meeting was arranged between her and a colonel from the Northern Command. The colonel made Elinor a singular proposal: undergo regular basic training and, on the condition of being selected as an outstanding trainee, go on to attempt the medic's training course.
Elinor agreed. She completed basic training, was the outstanding trainee of her platoon, and subsequently proceeded to the medic's training course. In an interview with Gadi Sukenik of Channel 2, Elinor described the course as "one of the most... amazing experiences I ever had." At the completion ceremony, on account of her being an outstanding cadet, her commander awarded her her own medic's pin.
Tours of duty
After successfully completing the medic's training course, Elinor Joseph was stationed in a military police base near the Palestinian city of Qalqilyah. In an interview with Chen Kotas Bar of Ma'ariv she recounted how soldiers there would summon her whenever a problem arose with the local residents and there was need for an interpreter. She had some misgivings about serving at a border crossing, but in those moments she reminded herself of the Katyusha rockets that rained down on Haifa. "If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs," she told Rotem Caro Weizman of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
In response to a transfer request Elinor made, in 2010 she was reassigned to the Caracal battalion, which operates in the western Negev along Israel's border with Egypt. She thus became the first Arab woman ever to serve in the Israeli army in a combat role.
Elinor Joseph described the reactions of her friends and neighbors as mixed. While she encountered no overt hostility, walking around her neighborhood in the IDF uniform drew cross looks from some passersby. Some of Elinor's friends terminated contact with her, while with others she developed a closer relationship.
Arab-Israeli journalist Suleiman al-Shafi has rejected that Elinor Joseph is the first Arab woman to serve in a combat role in the IDF. In his view, it is more accurate to describe her as the first to have done so publicly.
- Caro Weizman, Rotem (26 July 2010). "First Female Arab Combat Soldier in IDF is Proud to Serve Israel". IDF News. Retrieved 13 August 2011. "The difficult dilemma she felt in serving at a border crossing was not easy for her but she said during moments of difficulty and misgiving she would remember, 'there was a Katyusha [rocket] that fell near my house and also hurt Arabs. If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs.'"
- Qubaisi, Kamal (26 July 2010). "فلسطينية تطل من خنادق الجيش الإسرائيلي متسلحة بالإغراء". Al Arabiya (in Arabic) (London). Retrieved 14 August 2011. "مع ذلك قالت وردة جوزف إن العائلة المؤلفة منها ومن زوجها شربل وابنتيهما لوريان وآلينور (22 و20 سنة)، فخورة بانخراط أحد أفرادها بالجيش الإسرائيلي."
- Kotas Bar, Chen (6 February 2010). "נא להכיר: אלינור ג'וזף, לוחמת ערבייה בצה"ל" [Meet Elinor Joseph, female Arab fighter in the IDF]. Nrg Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 13 August 2011. "היא נולדה בגוש חלב (ג'ש). משפחה ערבית-נוצרית. היום, כשהיא מציגה את עצמה, היא אומרת שהיא 'ערבייה, נוצרייה, ישראלית'. בסדר הזה. אבא שלה היה לוחם בצנחנים, שירת בקבע ואחר כך גם במילואים."
- Sukenik, Gadi (8 February 2010). "אלינור ג'וזף – לוחמת ערבייה בצה"ל" [Elinor Joseph – Female Arab fighter in IDF]. Reshet–Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 12 August 2011. "אבא שלי. הוא גם היה, כאילו, לוחם בצנחנים."