Caracal Battalion

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The 33rd Caracal Battalion 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 are composed of both male and female soldiers. It is named after the caracal, a small cat whose sexes appear the same. As of 2009, approximately 70% of the battalion was female.


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.[5]

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.[6]

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, a female officer, Captain Or Ben-Yehuda, nonetheless dismounted from the jeep and returned fire killing one militant in the fire-fight.[7]

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.[8] The unit badge incorporates the Sagi Brigade badge with the addition of the caracal cat.[9]

At Sufa, Israel, Caracal Battalion, under the command of Lt.-Col. "Captain" Or Ben-Yehuda, eliminated nearly 100 Hamas terrorists during the 2023 Hamas invasion on southern Israel. The Battalion, suffered minimal casualties, and no deaths, challenging concerns about female soldiers in Israel [10]

See Also