By law, Israeli women are conscripted in the Israeli Defence Forces for a period of two years. Although an unusual practice conscripting women in Israel’s army has been done since the official founding of the Israeli independent state after the Second World War. Women in the Israeli Defence Forces have taken part and played an important role in the number of military conflicts which Israel had to fight with its neighbour states during the second half of the twentieth century. Israel is the only country in the world to require women by law to serve in the army. Currently, three percent of all active defence personnel in the Israeli army are females. Nearly ninety percent of permanent positions in the country’s defence forces are available to women, as well as men.
Women in the Israeli Defence Forces receive full combat and weapons training, just like their male conscript counterparts. Generally, the service duration is twenty four months, unless the position or duty for which the conscript is applying requires a thirty six month training course. Women are not restricted from progressing through the ranks of the Israeli Defence Forces. In recent years, positions in Special Forces battalions were also made available to female soldiers. Once a woman completes her military service she is entered in the Israeli Reserve Army. This means that in the event of war, or another type of armed conflict, women can be called in, and reinstated in their respective military position. Generally, women can be in reserve up to the age of thirty eight, even if they have since become mothers. Initially though, women were not allowed to actually take part in combat alongside male soldiers. The first example where the women of the Israeli Defence Forces were called up on for service was a few years after the end of the Second World War during the Arab-Israeli war which saw Israel short for manpower. After this, women were not allowed to battle, the main argument for this was that if a female soldier was captured as a prisoner of war, the risk of rape and sexual molestation by the enemy was quite serious, and women were to be protected from it.
Gal Gadot, one of the younger Israeli actresses and models to make their way into big-film industry, is no exception and did her two years of army service for the Israeli Defence Forces. While in the army, Gadot received extensive training in combat tactics, firearms and special weapons use, hand to hand combat, survival training etc. This might seem like a totally unnecessary exercise for a woman who is not planning to stay, or have anything to do with the army, but as it turned out Gadot’s military experience and knowledge helped her with her first big movie role – that of Gisele Harabo, in the action blockbuster franchise The Fast & The Furious.
Gal Gadot is also a devotee to sports and keeps a strong physique as shooting down airplanes, jumping from trucks to car bonnets at hundred miles an hour, whilst being in hand to hand combat with the bad guys is not easy, although everything is just part of the action packed script of the F & F movies. When Gadot was chosen to play the role of Gisele in the fourth, fifth and sixth Fast & Furious films she didn’t really have an idea what she was getting herself into, as her character was given more action sequences with each film. Director Justin Lin wanted to make each movie better than the previous one, which meant only one thing – more stunts and more action scenes for Gal’s character.
Director Justin Lin was quick to realise to benefits of working with a talented young actress, who not only had the charm, but also packed a punch and had all the weapons and combat skills needed to impersonate Gisele perfectly. During the shoot, Gal Gadot had to refresh her weapons use skills, and polish up her hand to hand combat knowledge, though this was no problem really as she leads a highly active lifestyle, does sports and exercises on a daily basis. Her able physique and her military skills also meant that Gal could do her own stunts for the three movies. At the start, director and producers weren’t too willing to have the young Israeli beauty jumping through fireballs and off cars, but nevertheless they all gave it a go and it turned out Gal was perfect at it.
Indeed doing your own stunts is dangerous and takes a certain frame of mind, but the Israeli actress aced every single action sequence and made the thrills packed film that bit more realistic. In fact, she says that during the making of the films she had no trouble following director’s instructions on action scenes, and even helped with some of the fight choreography. Gal also says that everything was made possible and perfectly safe because they worked with the most professional and experienced stunt coordinators who wouldn’t let any of the actors, including Gal do any stunts unless they were sure everything is perfectly safe and secured.
Gal says that she loved doing her own stunts, and although very excited she wasn’t at risk. However, the actress also says that doing your own stunts in a movie full of action sequences does come at a price – ‘the pain comes the day after’ she said in of her interviews. Although everything during the stunt is safe and secured, there were still plenty of bumps and bruises sustained she says. Though every bit of pain was worth it, as in the end the Fast & Furious movies she took part in turned out great. Her stunt capabilities, and her sufficient weapons and combat knowledge will also likely help her snug into the role of Wonder Woman – three movie deal with Warner Bros. which also includes a standalone movie about Wonder Woman. Interestingly enough, this would be the only movie solely about Wonder Woman ever made, apart from the famous TV series starring Linda Carter.