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The Israel Air Force welcomed its first female flight squadron commander on Tuesday, heralding her as “a role model and an inspiration for thousands of women in the State of Israel.”

Lt. Col. “Gimel” – whose name is not being released due to security concerns – will command the surveillance aircraft Nachshon Squadron.

“Congratulations to our first female commander of an operational squadron in the air force, we’ve been waiting for you for 71 years,” said IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin at the ceremony celebrating the achievement.

Gimel, 35, joined the Israel Defense Forces 16 years ago and completed her flight training with a specialization in transport planes. She is the mother of two children.

She served as the deputy commander of the Nachshon Squadron, flying advanced surveillance equipment in Gulfstream jets to the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel from 2015 to 2017, and was nominated for the commander’s post last year, which she called “a great privilege along with a great responsibility.”

“The true work is still ahead,” she said at the time. “I am proud to serve in the air force.”

The IAF named the first-ever woman to head an IAF ground-based aviation operations squadron in January, and the first female deputy commander of an F-15 fighter jet squadron in November.

The right for women to be considered for the IAF’s elite pilots’ course was won through a Supreme Court case brought by Alice Miller in 1995, but there are very few female fighter pilots in the IAF due to the rigorous physical fitness requirements.

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