The Israel Defence Force (IDF) has promoted the first female major general in its 63-year history, a military spokesman announced Thursday night, dpa reported.
Brigadier Orna Barbivai, 49, will assume her new rank when she takes over as commander of the IDF's Manpower Branch in a few weeks. She currently serves as the Branch's chief staff officer.
Barbivai, who is married with three children, enlisted in the army in 1981, joining the Adjutant Corps. She served in a variety of posts in the Corps, eventually commanding it, and also served as chief manpower officer in the Ground Corps Command.
The rank of major general is the second-highest in the IDF, and is the highest a soldier can reach unless appointed chief-of-staff, who is always the only serving officer with the rank of lieutenant-general.
Barbivai's promotion was welcomed by women legislators. Lawmaker Miri Regev, who held the rank of brigadier when she was chief IDF spokeswoman, said it created "an opening for further (similar) appointment in the IDF."
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni said that the appointment sent out a "clear and correct message to Israeli society."
"There is no rank that is too heavy for a woman's shoulders and there is no doubt that Brigadier Barbivai was appointed because of her talents," Livni was quoted as saying.