Gill Rosenberg

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Gill Rosenberg
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
AllegianceIsrael (2006–08)
Rojava (2014–15)
Service/branchIsrael Defense Forces (2006–08)
Women's Protection Units (2014–15)
Years of service2006–08; 2014–15
RankNCO (Israel)
UnitSearch, Rescue and Civil Defense School (2006–08)
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War
Other workCivil aviation pilot

Gill or Gila (Gillian Chelsea Clarissa) Rosenberg (Hebrew: גיל רוזנברג‎; born 1983) is a CanadianIsraeli woman who became internationally known when she became the first female foreigner to join the Women's Protection Units fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Islamists claimed that Rosenberg had become an ISIL hostage, leading to significant additional press coverage. These reports proved false.

Early life[edit]

Gill Rosenberg was born in Canada and is reported to be from White Rock, British Columbia. She attended a Jewish high school in Vancouver and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). She had worked as a pilot on Boeing passenger aircraft.[1][2]

Rosenberg moved to Israel and also acquired Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, living in Tel Aviv. In Israel Rosenberg joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2006 to 2008 [3] as a volunteer where she served a SAR NCO and instructor at the Home Front Command's Search, Rescue and Civil Defense School.[2][4]

Criminal conviction[edit]

In 2009, Rosenberg was arrested, extradited to the United States, and pleaded guilty for participating in a telemarketing lottery fraud. As part of a plea bargain, she was sentenced to four years in prison in a Manhattan federal court, but later her sentence was reduced before being deported to Israel.[3][5][6]

Joining the Kurds[edit]

Rosenberg gained international press coverage as the first foreign woman to join Kurds battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria or Iraq.[7] According to an interview with Kol Yisrael (Israel Radio)[8] quoted by The Jerusalem Post she decided to join the Women's Protection Units, the female counterpart of the People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, for humanitarian and ideological reasons and "because they are our brothers" who are fighting evil.[2] Wladimir van Wilgenburg, an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation said "Rosenberg is quite popular among the Kurds, especially those [who] sympathize with Israel’s national struggle, and the fact that the Israelis/Jews managed to create their own state, something which a lot of Kurdish nationalists aspire to."

The Jerusalem Post stated that upon return to Israel she would be arrested and prosecuted, as was the case of several Israeli Arabs who joined ISIL and subsequently returned to Israel. The paper pointed out that Rosenberg also breached Israeli law by flying to Iraq, an enemy country, which Israeli citizens are forbidden to enter;[9] the Israeli government had also cracked down on those going to fight against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.[4]

In Canada, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney stated that while the government "would not oppose a citizen who is willing to engage in a battle for liberty and helping the victims of barbaric crimes," he believed that "the best way to fight terrorism is to support our national law enforcement or national security agencies and eventually get involved with them."[10][11]

In late November 2014 militants on social media started claiming that Rosenberg has been captured, along with several other female fighters by ISIL perhaps during the Siege of Kobanî. This was denied by Kurdish officials[4] who said she was nowhere near Kobanî. On December 1, Rosenberg updated her Facebook page, saying that she was safe.[12] If captured, she would have been the second Israeli dual citizen, after American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, and the first Canadian, to be held hostage by ISIL.[9] There was also speculation that, if she had been captured, Canada might have mounted a rescue operation to retrieve her.[1]

Return to Israel[edit]

Gill Rosenberg returned to Israel on 12 July 2015 after 6 months in Syria and Iraq.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b "Ottawa probing reports Canadian-Israeli woman kidnapped by ISIS". CTV. 30 November 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Melman, Yossi (11 November 2014). "Profile of a freedom fighter: The Canadian-Israeli who joined the fight against ISIS". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b Logan, Nick (1 December 2014). "Who is Gill Rosenberg?". Global News. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Lindsay, Bethany; Gerson, Jen (30 November 2014). "Where is Gill Rosenberg? Islamists claim Canadian kidnapped by ISIS, but Kurdish militia says 'she is safe'". The National Post. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  5. ^ Coles, Isabel; Williams, Dan (11 November 2014). "Fighting ISIS: Canadian-Israeli Gill Rosenberg 1st foreign woman to join Kurds in Syria". CBC. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Leader of International Lottery Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 150 Months in Prison". The Federal Bureau of Investigation. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Canadian/Israeli becomes first female foreign fighter to join Kurds". 11 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  8. ^ Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ a b Melman, Yossi (30 November 2014). "Report: ISIS kidnaps Canadian-Israeli, former IDF soldier who went to fight with the Kurds". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Government, military send mixed messages on Canadians joining Kurds in ISIS fight". CBC. 22 November 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  11. ^ Bell, Stewart (1 December 2014). "Canadians warned not to join militias fighting against ISIS, as interest grows among veterans". The National Post. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Canadian woman 'safe and secure' after reports of ISIS kidnapping". CTV. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Israeli-Canadian woman returns from fighting with Kurds in Syria". Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  14. ^ Hartman, Ben (August 14, 2015). "The curious case of Gill Rosenberg". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 31 August 2015.