Caracal Battalion

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33rd "Caracal" Battalion
Caracal battalion.jpg
Beret doffing ceremony at Masada
Country Israel
BranchGround Forces
Size1 Battalion
Part of512th Brigade ("Sagi territorial brigade"), Southern Command
Motto(s)"The winning combination"
ColorsLight yellow with brown camouflage beret, Orange & Bordeaux Flag
EngagementsAl-Aqsa Intifadah; 2005 Gaza withdrawal; 2006 Israel-Lebanon War;

The 33rd "Caracal" Battalion (Hebrew: גדוד קרקל‎) is an infantry combat battalion of the Israel Defense Forces, one of the three fully combat units (alongside the 'Lions of Jordan Battalion' and the 'Cheetah Battalion') in the Israeli military's Paran Brigade that is composed of both male and female soldiers.[1] It is named after the caracal, a small cat whose sexes appear the same.[2] As of 2009, approximately 70% of the battalion was female.[1][3]


Cadets first day in the Caracal Battalion

Prior to Caracal's formation in 2000, women were barred from serving in direct combat. The unit has since been tasked with patrolling the Israeli-Egyptian border. It took part in Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.[4]

Caracal Battalion engaged in combat on September 21, 2012 on the Egyptian border, following the infiltration of a group of terrorists. Responding to a radio report of the attack, in a fire-fight a female Caracal infantry soldier killed a terrorist, who was wearing a Suicide Belt.[5]

In October 2014, a jeep of the battalion was attacked by militants from the Egyptian border with gunfire and an anti-tank missile. Two soldiers were injured. One of the injured, female officer, Captain Or Ben-Yehuda, nonetheless dismounted from the jeep and returned fire killing one militant in the fire-fight.[6]

In November 2017, Caracal officially became part of the border array (alongside the 'Lions of Jordan Battalion' and the 'Cheetah Battalion') and replaced the green beret with a light yellow and brown camouflage.

While Caracal is a mixed gender battalion, it has been 70% female since 2009. It is part of the 512th Sagi Brigade of the Southern Command.[7] The unit badge incorporates the Sagi Brigade badge with the addition of the caracal cat.[8]


Female soldiers taking part in Caracal Winter Training

Members of the Caracal Battalion were formerly issued the Israeli-made Tavor assault rifle.[8] but are now issued M4 carbines or M16 rifles.[9]

Battalion members partake in a four-month basic training period that includes physical training and weapons training at the Givati Brigade training base.[3]

Weapons and equipment[edit]

Soldiers in Caracal are trained with the Micro-Tavor assault rifle but until August 2017 new recruits were trained with the M16A1 and M4A1 assault rifle as the official weapon of the battalion. Weapons used by the unit also include the M-203 grenade launcher, M-72 Light Antitank Weapon rocket, 7.62mm MAG machine gun, 5.56mm Negev light machine gun, M2 Browning heavy machine gun, Sacco Defense Mk-19 40mm automatic grenade launcher, and 60 mm mortar.

As for vehicles, they use Ford, Abir, Sufa, Hammer, Mk 2 Sufa and Mk 3 Sufa vehicles.

Caracal has additional equipment that allow for advanced communication and observation, such as night vision goggles and other equipment that is classified.

Notable recruits[edit]

Second Lieutenant Noy, who is serving in the Caracal Battalion, was the first female officer to command a sniper platoon.[10][11]

Elinor Joseph, who has also served with the Caracal Battalion, is the first Arab woman ever to serve in a combat role in the Israeli Army.[12]

Captain Or Ben-Yehuda was awarded a citation while serving in the Caracal Battalion. Ben-Yehuda was in charge of the Caracal Battalion which was stationed near the Israeli-Egyptian border. Nearly two dozen armed men opened fire on their position in an ambush attack on October 22, 2014. Although wounded in the volley of gunfire, Ben-Yehuda managed to get on the radio and call for backup, administer first aid to her driver and return several magazines worth of gunfire back at her attackers while waiting for reinforcements.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Coed combat". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  2. ^ "Caracal". the Honolulu Zoo. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Integration of women in the IDF". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 8, 2009. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  4. ^ Sheera Claire Frenkel. "After the evacuation". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  5. ^ "One Female Warrior Excels during Fire Exchange, as Another Is Shamed". The Jewish Press. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  6. ^ Female warrior who killed a terrorist: an impressive commander Maariv
  7. ^ "gender IDF Battalion thwarts terrorist attack on Egyptian border". Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Ben, Tzvi (January 8, 2009). "Female Combat Soldiers to Receive Advanced Tavor Rifle". Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ 1st woman commands sniper platoon. YNet.
  11. ^ "Israeli Women Inspired to Join Combat Units" by Julie Stahl,
  12. ^ Caro Weizman, Rotem (July 26, 2010). "First Female Arab Combat Soldier in IDF is Proud to Serve Israel". IDF News. Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 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.'
  13. ^ "This Female IDF Soldier Fought Off 23 Terrorists in Surprise Attack", The Tribunist