On Egypt border, mixed-gender troops fight old ideas and new foes


Soldiers of the Caracal Battalion rest before a hike as part of their training on September 3, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Soldiers of the Caracal Battalion rest before a hike as part of their training on September 3, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
With nightly drug smugglings and threat of IS, the women and men of the Caracal Battalion are on alert for anything coming from Sinai
 

By Judah Ari Gross | The Times of Israel

While the country’s — and world’s — eyes have been focused on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, it is the Sinai border that is unequivocally the most active.

On an almost nightly basis, Egyptian smugglers, most of them Bedouin, come to the 125-mile (200-kilometer) border fence to toss bags of contraband to their Israeli counterparts, who collect the goods in ATVs or — on a big night, in trucks — and bring them back for distribution, soldiers serving on the border told The Times of Israel.

But while stopping drug runners is almost routine, the real threat from Sinai is the Islamic State group, which is currently occupied in a vicious war with Egyptian forces, but is expected one day to turn its eyes to the Jewish state.

The people addressing that threat on the Sinai border are the men and women of the Caracal Battalion, one of the IDF’s three — soon to be four — mixed-gender combat battalions.

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