Israel Defense Forces

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ( , lit. "Defensive Army for Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

"; ), commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym
Acronym and initialism
Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters or parts of words . There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of the various terms , nor on written usage...

 Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. They consist of the ground forces
GOC Army Headquarters
The Israeli GOC Army headquarters , known unofficially as Mazi, is a multi-corps command headquarters created in 1998, which amalgamates the ground forces of the Israel Defense Forces...

, air force
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces
Israeli Security Forces
Security forces in Israel include a variety of organizations, including law enforcement, military, paramilitary, governmental, and intelligence agencies.-Military:...

, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel. The IDF is headed by its Chief of General Staff
Ramatkal
The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. At any given time, the Chief of Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, Rav Aluf , which is usually...

, the Ramatkal, subordinate to the Defense Minister of Israel; Rav Aluf Benny Gantz has served as Chief of Staff since 2011.

An order of Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 on May 26, 1948, officially set up the Israel Defense Forces as a conscript army
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 formed out of the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 group Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

, incorporating the militant
Militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

 groups Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

 and Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

. The IDF served as Israel's armed forces in all the country's major military operations—including the 1948 War of Independence, 1951–1956 Retribution operations
Retribution operations
The retribution operations were military operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. These actions were in response to constant fedayeen terror attacks during which the Palestinian militants infiltrated from Syria, Egypt and Jordan into Israel to carry out...

, 1956 Sinai War
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, 1964–1967 War over Water
The War over Water
The "War over Water" , also the Battle over Water , refers to a series of confrontations between Israel and its Arab neighbors from November 1964 to May 1967 over control of available water sources in the Jordan River drainage basin.-History:The 1949 Armistice Agreements which followed the 1948...

, 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, 1967–1970 War of Attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

, 1973 Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, 1976 Operation Entebbe
Operation Entebbe
Operation Entebbe was a counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Special Forces of the Israel Defense Forces at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976. A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and...

, 1978 Operation Litani
Operation Litani
The 1978 South Lebanon conflict was an invasion in Lebanon up to the Litani River carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in 1978. It was a military success for the Israeli Defense Forces, as PLO forces were pushed north of the river...

, 1982 Lebanon War
1982 Lebanon War
The 1982 Lebanon War , , called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon...

, 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, 1987–1993 First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

, 2000–2005 Second Intifada, 2002 Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield was a large-scale military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002, during the course of the Second Intifada. It was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The operation was an attempt by the Israeli army to stop the...

, 2006 Lebanon War, 2008–2009 Gaza War and others. The number of wars and border conflicts in which IDF was involved in its short history, makes it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world. While originally the IDF operated on three fronts—against Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 in the north, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 in the east, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 in the south—after the 1979 Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, it has concentrated its activities in southern Lebanon
Southern Lebanon
Southern Lebanon is the geographical area of Lebanon comprising the South Governorate and the Nabatiye Governorate. These two entities were divided from the same province in the early 1990s...

 and the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, including the First
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

 and the Second Intifada.

The Israel Defense Forces differs from most armed forces in the world in many ways. Differences include the conscription of women and its structure, which emphasizes close relations between the army, navy and air force. Since its founding, the IDF has been specifically designed to match Israel's unique security situation. The IDF is one of Israeli society's most prominent institutions, influencing the country's economy, culture and political scene. In 1965, the Israel Defense Forces was awarded the Israel Prize
Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

 for its contribution to education. The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel, many of them made specifically to match the IDF's needs, such as the Merkava
Merkava
The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1974 and was first introduced in 1978. Four main versions of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War...

 main battle tank, high tech weapons systems, the Iron Dome
Iron Dome
Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system in development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells. The system was created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel's civilian population on its northern and southern...

, Trophy countermeasure, and the Galil
IMI Galil
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd of Ramat HaSharon...

 and Tavor
IMI Tavor TAR-21
The TAR-21 is an Israeli bullpup assault rifle chambered for 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition with a selective fire system, selecting between semi-automatic mode, burst mode, and full automatic fire mode. It is named after Mount Tavor, while "TAR-21" stands for "Tavor Assault Rifle - 21st Century". It is...

 assault rifles. The Uzi submachine gun was invented in Israel and used by the IDF until December 2003, ending a service that began in 1954. Following 1967, the IDF has had close military relations with the United States, including development cooperation, such as on the F-15I jet, THEL
Tactical High Energy Laser
The Tactical High-Energy Laser, or THEL, is a laser developed for military use, also known as the Nautilus laser system. The mobile version is the Mobile Tactical High-Energy Laser, or MTHEL.- Demonstrator :...

 laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

History



The IDF traces its roots to Jewish paramilitary organizations in the New Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

, starting with the Second Aliyah
Second Aliyah
The Second Aliyah was an important and highly influential aliyah that took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 40,000 Jews immigrated into Ottoman Palestine, mostly from the Russian Empire, some from Yemen....

 (1904 to 1914). The first such organization was Bar-Giora
Bar-Giora
Bar-Giora was a Jewish self-defense organization of the Second Aliyah, the precursor of Hashomer.- History :On September 28, 1907, a group of Poalei Zion members gathered at Yitzhak Ben-Zvi's unfurnished apartment in Jaffa apartment formed Bar-Giora, a Jewish self-defense organization named for...

, founded in September 1907. It was converted to Hashomer
Hashomer
Hashomer was a Jewish defense organization in Palestine founded out of Bar-Giora in April 1909. It ceased to operate after the founding of the Haganah in 1920. The purpose of Hashomer was to provide guard services for Jewish settlements in the Yishuv, freeing Jewish communities from dependence...

 in April 1909, which operated until the British Mandate of Palestine came into being in 1920. Hashomer was an elitist organization with narrow scope, and was mainly created to protect against criminal gangs seeking to steal property. During World War I the forerunners of the Haganah/IDF were the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Legion
Jewish Legion
The Jewish Legion was the name for five battalions of Jewish volunteers established as the British Army's 38th through 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers...

, both of which were part of the British Army. After the Arab riots
1920 Palestine riots
The 1920 Palestine riots, or Nabi Musa riots, took place in British Mandate of Palestine April 4–7, 1920 in and around the Old City of Jerusalem....

 against Jews in April 1920, the Yishuv's leadership saw the need to create a nationwide underground defense organization, and the Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 was founded in June of the same year. The Haganah became a full-scale defense force after the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine with an organized structure, consisting of three main units—the Field Corps
HISH
The Hish was a corps formed by the Haganah in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939 following the disbandment of the smaller mobilized force known as the Fosh. It was the Haganah's main surface corps, alongside Him and the Palmach....

, Guard Corps
Guard Corps (Haganah)
The Guard Corps , also Guard Force, was the stationary military unit of the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization in Mandatory Palestine. It was responsible for guarding the Jewish villages from attacks, especially by Arab gangs....

 and the Palmach
Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

. During World War II the successor to the Jewish Legion of World War I was the Jewish Brigade
Jewish Brigade
The Jewish Infantry Brigade Group was a military formation of the British Army that served in Europe during the Second World War. The brigade was formed in late 1944, and its personnel fought the Germans in Italy...

.

The IDF was founded following the establishment of the State of Israel, after Defense Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 issued an order on May 26, 1948. The order called for the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, and the abolishment of all other Jewish armed forces. Although Ben-Gurion had no legal authority to issue such an order, the order was made legal by the cabinet
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

 on May 31.

The two other Jewish underground organizations, Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

 and Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

, agreed to join the IDF if they would be able to form independent units and agreed not to make independent arms purchases. This was the background for the dispute which led to the Altalena Affair
Altalena Affair
The Altalena Affair was a violent confrontation that took place in June 1948 between the newly formed Israel Defense Forces and the Irgun, a right-wing Jewish paramilitary group...

, when following a confrontation regarding the weapons it brought resulted in a battle between Irgun members and the newly created IDF. It ended when the ship was shelled. Following the affair, all independent Irgun and Lehi units were either disbanded or merged into the IDF. The Palmach, a strong lobby within the Haganah, also joined the IDF with provisions, and Ben Gurion responded by disbanding its staff in 1949, after which many senior Palmach officers retired, notably its first commander, Yitzhak Sadeh
Yitzhak Sadeh
Yitzhak Sadeh , was the commander of the Palmach, one of the founders of the Israel Defense Forces at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel and a cousin of British philosopher Isaiah Berlin.-Biography:...

.

The new army organized itself during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War when neighbouring Arab states fought Israel. Twelve infantry and armored brigades formed: Golani
Golani Brigade
The Golani Brigade is an Israeli infantry brigade that is subordinated to the 36th Division and traditionally associated with the Northern Command. Its symbol is a green tree on a yellow background, and its soldiers wear a brown beret. It is one of the most highly decorated infantry units in the...

, Carmeli, Alexandroni
Alexandroni Brigade
The Alexandroni Brigade is an Israel Defense Forces brigade that fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Along with the 7th Armoured Brigade both units had 139 killed during the first battle of Latrun - Operation Ben Nun Alef .The unit is currently a reserve unit.-Katz controversy:In 1998, Teddy Katz...

, Kiryati
Kiryati Brigade
The Kiryati Brigade was formed in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion and was one of the original nine brigades that made up the Haganah. The Kiryati Brigade was initially responsible for securing the area in and around Tel Aviv...

, Givati
Givati Brigade
The Givati Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and serves as its amphibious force. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets...

, Etzioni
Etzioni Brigade
The Etzioni Brigade , also 6th Brigade and Jerusalem Brigade, was an infantry brigade in the Haganah and Israel Defense Forces in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It was founded in late 1947 as the Field Corps unit responsible for the defense of Jerusalem and its surroundings, where it operated during...

, the 7th and 8th armored brigades, Oded
Oded Brigade
The Oded Brigade was an Israeli infantry brigade, one of ten brigades fielded by the Haganah . It was headquartered in Jerusalem...

, Harel
Harel Brigade
Harel Brigade is a reserve brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, today part of the Northern Command. It played a critical role in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.- War of Independence :...

, Yiftach
Yiftach Brigade
The Yiftach Brigade was an Israeli infantry brigade...

 and Negev
Negev Brigade
The 12th Negev Brigade was an Israeli infantry brigade that served in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It was commanded by Nahum "Sergei" Sarig and consisted of four Palmach battalions...

. After the war, some of the brigades were converted to reserve units, and others were disbanded. Directorates and corps were created from corps and services in the Haganah, and this basic structure in the IDF still exists today.

Immediately after the 1948 war, the Israel Defense Forces shifted to low intensity
Low intensity conflict
Low intensity conflict is the use of military forces applied selectively and with restraint to enforce compliance with the policies or objectives of the political body controlling the military force...

 conflict
Retribution operations
The retribution operations were military operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. These actions were in response to constant fedayeen terror attacks during which the Palestinian militants infiltrated from Syria, Egypt and Jordan into Israel to carry out...

 against Arab Palestinian guerrillas
Palestinian fedayeen
Palestinian fedayeen refers to militants or guerrillas of a nationalist orientation from among the Palestinian people...

. In the 1956 Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, the IDF's first test of strength after 1949, the new army proved itself by capturing the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 from Egypt, which was later returned. In the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, Israel conquered the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 (including East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

) and Golan Heights from the surrounding Arab states, changing the balance of power in the region as well as the role of the IDF. In the following years leading up to the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, the IDF fought a war of attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

 against Egypt in the Sinai and a border war against the PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 in Jordan, culminating in the Battle of Karameh
Battle of Karameh
The Battle of Karameh was fought on March 21, 1968 in the town of Karameh, Jordan, between the Israel Defense Forces and combined forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Jordanian Army...

.

The surprise of the Yom Kippur War and its aftermath completely changed the IDF's procedures and approach to warfare. Organizational changes were made and more time was dedicated to training for conventional warfare. However, in the following years the army's role slowly shifted again to low-intensity conflict, urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

 and counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

. It was involved in the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

, initiating Operation Litani
Operation Litani
The 1978 South Lebanon conflict was an invasion in Lebanon up to the Litani River carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in 1978. It was a military success for the Israeli Defense Forces, as PLO forces were pushed north of the river...

 and later the 1982 Lebanon War
1982 Lebanon War
The 1982 Lebanon War , , called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon...

, where the IDF ousted Palestinian guerilla organizations from Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. Palestinian militancy has been the main focus of the IDF ever since, especially during the First
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

 and Second Intifadas, Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield
Operation Defensive Shield was a large-scale military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002, during the course of the Second Intifada. It was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The operation was an attempt by the Israeli army to stop the...

 and the Gaza War, causing the IDF to change many of its values and publish the IDF Spirit. The Shia organization Hezbollah has also been a growing threat, against which the IDF fought an asymmetric conflict since 1982 until 2000, as well as a full-scale war in 2006.

Etymology


The Israeli cabinet
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

 ratified the name "Israel Defense Forces" , Tzva HaHagana LeYisra'el, literally "army for the defense of Israel," on May 26, 1948. The other main contender was Tzva Yisra'el . The name was chosen because it conveyed the idea that the army's role was defense, and because it incorporated the name Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

, upon which the new army was based. Among the primary opponents of the name were Minister Haim-Moshe Shapira
Haim-Moshe Shapira
Haim-Moshe Shapira was a key Israeli politician in the early days of the state's existence. A signatory of Israel's declaration of independence, he served continuously as a minister from the country's foundation in 1948 until his death in 1970 apart from a brief spell in the late...

 and the Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

 party, both in favor of Tzva Yisra'el.

Organization


All branches of the IDF answer to a single General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff is the only serving officer having the rank of Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 (Rav Aluf). He reports directly to the Defense Minister and indirectly to the Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 and the cabinet. Chiefs of Staff are formally appointed by the cabinet, based on the Defense Minister's recommendation, for three years, but the government can vote to extend their service to four (and in rare occasions even five) years. The current chief of staff is Benny Gantz. He replaced Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Gavriel "Gabi" Ashkenazi , was the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces from 2007 to 2011.- Background and early life :...

 in 2011.

Structure


The IDF includes the following bodies (those whose respective heads are members of the General Staff are in bold):



Regional commands

  • Northern Command
    Israeli Northern Command
    The Israeli Northern Command is the Israel Defense Forces regional command responsible for the northern front with Syria and Lebanon.-History:...

  • Central Command
    Israeli Central Command
    The Israeli Central Command , often abbreviated to Pakmaz , is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is responsible for the units and brigades located in the West Bank , Jerusalem, the Sharon, Gush Dan, and the Shephelah.The commander of the central command is the one who is...

  • Southern Command
    Israeli Southern Command
    The Israeli Southern Command , often abbreviated to Padam is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is responsible for the Negev, the Arava, and Eilat. It is currently headed by Aluf Tal Russo.-History:...

  • Home Front Command
    Israeli Home Front Command
    The Israeli Home Front Command is an Israel Defense Forces regional command, created in February 1992 following the Gulf War, which was the first war since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in which centres of civilian population faced significant threat....


Arms


Ground Arm
GOC Army Headquarters
The Israeli GOC Army headquarters , known unofficially as Mazi, is a multi-corps command headquarters created in 1998, which amalgamates the ground forces of the Israel Defense Forces...

  • Infantry and Paratrooper Corps
    Israeli Infantry Corps
    The Israeli Infantry Corps is a corps in the IDF GOC Army Headquarters. It is a maneuvering corps which primarily relies on infantry troops. It includes several regular and reserve service units and brigades which are operatively commanded by the IDF’s regional commands.-Overview:The corps moves to...

    • Golani Brigade
      Golani Brigade
      The Golani Brigade is an Israeli infantry brigade that is subordinated to the 36th Division and traditionally associated with the Northern Command. Its symbol is a green tree on a yellow background, and its soldiers wear a brown beret. It is one of the most highly decorated infantry units in the...

    • Givati Brigade
      Givati Brigade
      The Givati Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and serves as its amphibious force. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets...

    • Paratroopers Brigade
    • Kfir Brigade
    • Nahal Brigade
    • Bislamach Brigade
  • Armor Corps
    Israeli Armor Corps
    The Israeli Armored Corps is a corps of the Israel Defense Forces, since 1998 subordinate to GOC Army Headquarters...

    • 7th Sa'ar Armored Brigade
    • 188th Barak Armored Brigade
      Barak Armored Brigade
      The 188th "Barak" Armored Brigade is an Israeli armored brigade, subordinate to Israel's Northern Regional Command. The symbol of the Barak Armor Brigade is a shield with a red border bearing a sword against a blue and white background featuring the Haifa coastline background and a sword on it...

    • 401st Ikvot HaBarzel Armored Brigade
    • 460th Sons of Light Armored Brigade
      460th Brigade (IDF)
      The Israel Defense Forces 460th “Bnei Or”/”Sons of Light” Armor Brigade is the training formation for Israel's Armored Forces. It is subordinate to the Southern Regional Command.- Units :* 195th "Adam" Training Battalion with Merkava 2...

  • Combat Engineering Corps
    Israeli Engineering Corps
    The Israeli Combat Engineering Corps is the combat engineering forces of the Israel Defense Forces.The Combat Engineering Corps beret's color is grey and its symbol features a sword on a defensive tower with a blast halo on the background...

  • Artillery Corps
  • Field Intelligence Corps
    Israeli Field Intelligence Corps
    The Israeli Field Intelligence Corps is the newest of the IDF GOC Army Headquarters' five corps, created in April 2000, and is tasked with collecting combat intelligence. It is responsible for intelligence units from the battalion level and up to the entire force. Accordingly, it is professionally...



Air and Space Arm
  • Air Force
    Israeli Air Force
    The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

  • Air Defense Network
    Israeli Air Defense Network
    The Israeli Air Defense Command is the Israel Defense Forces unit responsible for the surface front of Israel's air defense, complementing the air defense provided by Israeli Air Force squadrons...



Sea Arm
  • Sea Corps
    Israeli Sea Corps
    The Israeli Navy is the naval arm of the Israel Defense Forces, operating primarily in the Mediterranean Sea theater as well as the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea theater. The current commander in chief of the Israeli Navy is Aluf Ram Rothberg.-History:...


Other bodies


Military:
  • Military Academies
    • Tactical Command College
    • Command and Staff College
    • National Security College
  • Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
    Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
    The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories is a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian...

  • Military Advocate General
    Military Advocate General
    The Military Advocate General assists the Israel Defense Forces in imposing rules of conduct through legal advice, legal instruction, maintaining the mechanisms for military prosecution and legal defense, and fulfilling special legal tasks...

  • Military Court of Appeals
    Israeli Military Court of Appeals
    The Israeli Military Court of Appeals is the supreme military court of the Israel Defense Forces. It considers and judges over appeals submitted by the Military Advocate General which challenge decisions rendered by the District Military Tribunals:...

  • Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff
    Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff
    The Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff is a role assumed by the head of the Budgeting Directorate of Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The Advisor is responsible for handling the budgeting for the Israel Defense Forces arms, the financial planning for the military, and coordinating these with...

  • Military Secretary to the Prime Minister
    Military Secretary to the Prime Minister
    The Military Secretary to the Prime Minister , is the senior military adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel on Military and on national security issues. Major-General Yohanan Locker is currently the post holder....


Civilian:
  • Director-general
    Director-general
    The term director-general is a title given the highest executive officer within a governmental, statutory, NGO, third sector or not-for-profit institution.-European Union:...

     of the Ministry of Defense
    Ministry of Defense (Israel)
    The Ministry of Defence of the government of Israel, is the governmental department responsible for defending the State of Israel from internal and external military threats...

  • Defense Establishment Comptroller Unit
    Defense Establishment Comptroller Unit
    Defense Establishment Comptroller Unit is an Israel Defense Forces unit which supervises and oversees the fitness, preparedness, and legality of the Israeli Security Forces' activities, in all its parts...

  • Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry
    Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry
    The Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure , abbreviated Maf'at , is a joint administrative body of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Israel Defense Forces that coordinates between the Ministry of Defense, the IDF, the military industries, Israel Military...


Branches


General Staff
Israeli General Staff
The Israeli General Staff , abbreviated Matkal , is the supreme command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is based in the Kirya compound in Tel Aviv.-Members:...

  • Planning Directorate
    Israeli Planning Directorate
    The Israeli Planning Directorate is the central body in the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff which deals with strategic planning, the building of military forces, and military organization. It also serves as a planning body for the Ministry of Defense, and represents the IDF in various related...

  • Operations Directorate
    Israeli Operations Directorate
    The Israeli Operations Directorate is a branch in the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, established in 1999, and alongside the regional commands, the Air Force and Sea corps and General Staff directorates, is responsible in planning for the exercising of military force...

    • IDF Spokesperson
      IDF Spokesperson's Unit
      The IDF Spokesperson's Unit is the unit in the IDF Operations Directorate, responsible for information policy and media relations. The unit is led by the IDF Spokesperson, a brigadier general and member of the General Staff, and by the Deputy Spokesperson, a colonel. The current Spokesperson is...

  • Intelligence Directorate
    Aman (IDF)
    The Directorate of Military Intelligence is Israel's central, overarching military intelligence, of the Israel Defense Forces. Aman was created in 1950, when the Intelligence Department was spun off from the IDF's General Staff ; the Intelligence Department itself was composed largely of former...

    • Intelligence Corps
      Israeli Intelligence Corps
      The Israeli Intelligence Corps is an Israel Defense Forces corps which falls under the jurisdiction of IDF Directorate of Military Intelligence and is responsible for collecting, disseminating, and publishing intelligence information for the General Staff and the political branch...

    • Military Censor
      Israeli Military Censor
      The Israeli Military Censor is a unit in the IDF Directorate of Military Intelligence which watches over the publication of information regarding the military network, and generally, the security of Israel. The Military Censor, as part of its duty, has authority to suppress information it deems...

  • Manpower Directorate
    • Military Police Corps
      Israeli Military Police
      The Military Police Corps of the Israel Defense Forces is the Israeli military police and provost. The military police serves the Manpower Directorate during peace time, and the Technological and Logistics Directorate during war....

    • Education and Youth Corps
      Israeli Education and Youth Corps
      The Israeli Education and Youth Corps is the IDF Manpower Directorate corps responsible for the education of soldiers and commanders in Israel's military...

    • Adjutant Corps
      Israeli Adjutant Corps
      The Israeli Adjutant Corps is a support corps in the IDF Human Resources Directorate. Its current commander is Brigadier General Arie Dahan.The corps's designation is to assist IDF commanders in dealing with manpower, as well as soldiers' individual problems...

    • General Corps
      Israeli General Corps
      The Israeli General Corps is the Israel Defense Forces authority responsible for those soldiers which do not belong to any corps.It is headed by the head of the Manpower Directorate's Staff Department, current Colonel Michal Ben-Muvhar....

    • Military Rabbinate
      Military Rabbinate
      The Military Rabbinate is a corps in the Israel Defense Forces that provides religious services to soldiers, primarily to Jews but also including non-Jews, and makes decisions on issues of religion and military affairs. The Military Rabbinate is headed by the Chief Military Rabbi, who is ranked a...

    • Women's Affairs advisor
      Women's Affairs advisor
      The Women's Affairs advisor to the Chief of Staff is a female officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in charge of promoting freedom of opportunities for women soldiers so as to better develop their abilities and talents in the military, and to provide them with a functional, suitable and diverse...

    • Chief Reserve Officer
      Israeli Chief Reserve Officer
      The Israeli Chief Reserve Officer is the commander of the Israel Defense Forces military reserve force. As of September 2008, the Chief Reserve Officer is Brigadier-General Yishayahu Ben Anat, who replaced Brigadier-General Dani Van Biran after three years in this position.The position was created...

  • Computer Service Directorate
    Israeli Computer Service Directorate
    The Israeli Computer Services Directorate is the Israel Defense Forces body which charts the communication, wireless transmission, computerization, command and control over and defense of information in the IDF. The Directorate was created on March 3, 2003, on the basis of some functions...

    • C4I Corps
      C4I Corps
      The C4I Corps , or Teleprocessing Corps, is a combat support corps of the Israel Defense Forces under the command of the Teleprocessing Branch, formerly the Computer Service Directorate. The C4I Corps is responsible for all areas of teleprocessing and communications in the IDF...

  • Technological and Logistics Directorate
    • Ordnance Corps
      Israeli Ordnance Corps
      The Israeli Ordnance Corps is a combat-support corps in the IDF GOC Army Headquarters. Before the Israeli Technological and Logistics Directorate was dismantled, it fell under its jurisdiction. The corps is responsible for the development and maintenance of war materiel, combat-support materials,...

    • Logistics Corps
      Israeli Logistics Corps
      The Israeli Logistics Corps is a support corps in the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate, which centralizes the logistical activity in the IDF, including the transporting of supplies, shipments of fuel, construction, and transport...

    • Medical Corps
      Israeli Medical Corps
      The Israeli Medical Corps is an Israel Defense Forces corps responsible for providing healthcare services and medical treatment and instruction to all levels of the IDF. During wars or emergencies, it also assumes authority over the civilian healthcare system in Israel...



Related bodies


The following bodies work closely with the IDF, but do not (or only partially) belong to its formal structure.

Security forces

  • Intelligence Community
    Israeli Intelligence Community
    The Israeli Intelligence Community is the designation given to the complex of organizations responsible for intelligence collection, dissemination, and research for the State of Israel...

  • Shabak
  • Mossad
    Mossad
    The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

  • National Security Council
  • Israeli police
  • Border Police
    Israel Border Police
    The Israel Border Police is the gendarmerie and border security branch of the Israel National Police. It is also commonly known by its Hebrew abbreviation Magav , meaning border guard, whilst its members are colloquially known as Magavnikim . Border Guard is often used as the official name of the...

  • Prison Service
    Israel Prison Service
    The Israel Prison Service , commonly known in Israel by its acronym Shabas , is the prison service of Israel. It is responsible for maintaining civilian prisons in Israel, as well as detention centers for security prisoners. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security...

  • Knesset Guard
    Knesset Guard
    The Knesset Guard is an Israeli protective security unit.The Knesset Guard is responsible for the security of the Knesset building and protection of Knesset members . Guards are stationed outside the building, and ushers are on duty inside...


Development

  • Israel Military Industries
    Israel Military Industries
    Israel Weapons Industries , formerly the "Magen" division of the Israel Military Industries Ltd. is an Israeli firearms manufacturer. In 2005, the Small Arms Division of IMI was privatized....

     (IMI)
  • Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)
  • Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
  • Elbit Systems
    Elbit Systems
    Elbit Systems Ltd. is one of the world's largest defense electronics manufacturers and integrators. Established in 1967, and based in Haifa, Israel, Elbit employs 11,000 people worldwide....

  • Elisra Group
    Elisra
    Elisra Group is an Israeli manufacturer of high-tech electronic devices for mainly but not exclusively military use. That includes equipment for electronic communication and surveillance, missile tracking and controlling systems, radar and lidar equipment. The group is composed of three companies:...

  • Soltam
    Soltam
    Soltam Systems is an Israeli Defense company located near Yokneam. The company has been developing and manufacturing advanced artillery systems, mortars, ammunition and peripheral equipment since 1952. Soltam Systems serves armed and special forces in more than 60 countries...

  • Plasan
    Plasan
    Plasan is an Israeli owned vehicle manufacturer established in 1985...



Ranks


Unlike most world armies, the IDF uses the same rank names in all corps, including the air force and navy. All enlisted ranks, as well as some of the officer and NCO ranks, may be given as a result of time spent in service, and not for accomplishment or merit.

For ground forces' officers, rank insignia were brass on a red background; for the air force, silver on a blue background; and for the navy, the standard gold worn on the sleeve. Officer insignia were worn on epaulets on top of both shoulders. Insignia distinctive to each service were worn on the cap (see fig. 15).

Enlisted grades wore rank insignia on the sleeve, halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. For the army and air force, the insignia were white with blue interwoven threads backed with the appropriate corps color. Navy personnel wore gold-colored rank insignia sewn on navy blue material.

From the formation of the IDF until the late 1980s, sergeant major was a particularly important warrant officer rank, in line with usage in other armies. However, in the 1980s and 1990s the proliferating ranks of sergeant major became devalued, and now all professional NCO ranks are a variation on sergeant major (rav samal) with the exception of rav nagad.
All translations here are the official translations of the IDF's website.

Conscripts (Hogrim) (Conscript ranks may be gained purely on time served)
  • Private
    Private (rank)
    A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

     (Turai)
  • Corporal
    Corporal
    Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

     (Rav Turai)
  • Sergeant
    Sergeant
    Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

     (Samal)
  • First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    First sergeant is the name of a military rank used in many countries, typically a senior non-commissioned officer.-Singapore:First Sergeant is a Specialist in the Singapore Armed Forces. First Sergeants are the most senior of the junior Specialists, ranking above Second Sergeants, and below Staff...

     (Samal Rishon)


Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

s
(Nagadim) (All volunteers)
  • Sergeant First Class (Rav Samal)
  • Master Sergeant (Rav Samal Rishon)
  • Sergeant Major
    Sergeant Major
    Sergeants major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, Sergeants Major are usually appointments held by senior non-commissioned officers or warrant officers...

     (Rav Samal Mitkadem)
  • Warrant Officer (Rav Samal Bakhir)
  • Master Warrant Officer (Rav Nagad Mishneh)
  • Chief Warrant Officer (Rav Nagad)


Academic officers (Ktzinim Akadema'im)
  • Professional Academic Officer (Katzin Miktzo'i Akadema'i)
  • Senior Academic Officer (Katzin Akadema'i Bakhir)


Officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

(Ktzinim)
  • Second Lieutenant
    Second Lieutenant
    Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

     (Segen Mishneh)
  • Lieutenant
    Lieutenant
    A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

     (Segen)
  • Captain
    Captain (OF-2)
    The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery...

     (Seren)
  • Major
    Major
    Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

     (Rav Seren)
  • Lieutenant Colonel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

     (Sgan Aluf)
  • Colonel
    Colonel
    Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

     (Aluf Mishneh)
  • Brigadier General
    Brigadier General
    Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

     (Tat Aluf)
  • Major General
    Major General
    Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

    (Aluf
    Aluf
    Aluf is the term used for General and Admiral in the Israel Defense Forces . In addition to the Aluf rank itself, there are four other ranks which are derivatives of the word...

    )
  • Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

    (Rav Aluf)

Uniforms



The Israel Defense Forces has several types of uniforms:
  • Service dress (aleph) – the everyday uniform, worn by enlisted soldiers.
  • Field dress
    Battledress
    Battledress, or fatigues in the general sense, is the type of uniform used as combat uniforms, as opposed to 'display' dress or formal uniform worn at parades and functions. It may be either monochrome or in a camouflage pattern...

     (bet) – worn into combat, training, work on base.
  • Officers / Ceremonial dress – worn by officers, or during special events/ceremonies.
  • Dress uniform
    Dress uniform
    Dress uniform , is the most formal military uniform, typically worn at ceremonies, official receptions, and other special occasions; with order insignias and full size medals...

     and Mess dress
    Mess dress
    Mess dress is the military term for the formal evening dress worn in the mess or at other formal occasions. It is also known as mess uniform and mess kit...

     – worn only abroad. There are several dress uniforms depending on the season and the branch.


The service uniform for all ground forces personnel is olive green; navy and air force uniforms are beige
Beige
Beige may be described as an off tan color or an extremely pale brown color.The term originates from beige cloth, a cotton fabric left undyed in its natural color...

 (tan
Tan (color)
Tan is a pale whiteish, tawny shade of white. The name is derived from tannum used in the tanning of leather.The first recorded use of tan as a shade name in English was in the year 1590....

). The uniforms consist of a shirt, trousers, sweater, jacket or blouse, and shoes or boots. The navy has an all white dress uniform. Green fatigues are the same for winter and summer and heavy winter gear is issued as needed. Women's dress parallels the men's but may substitute a skirt for the trousers.
Headgear included a service cap for dress and semi-dress and a field cap worn with fatigues. Army and air force personnel also had berets, usually worn in lieu of the service cap. The color of the air force beret was blue-gray; it is black for armored corps, Grey for mechanized infantry and turquoise artillery personnel; olive drab for infantry; red for paratroopers; grey for combat engineers; and purple for the Givati Brigade
Givati Brigade
The Givati Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and serves as its amphibious force. Givati soldiers are designated by purple berets...

 and brown for the Golani Brigade
Golani Brigade
The Golani Brigade is an Israeli infantry brigade that is subordinated to the 36th Division and traditionally associated with the Northern Command. Its symbol is a green tree on a yellow background, and its soldiers wear a brown beret. It is one of the most highly decorated infantry units in the...

. For all other army personnel, except combat units, the beret for men was green and for women, black. Women in the navy wore a black beret with gold insignia. Males in the navy once wore a blue/black beret but replaced it with the US Navy's sailor hat.

Some corps or units have small variations in their uniforms – for instance, military policemen wear a white belt and police hat. Similarly, while most IDF soldiers are issued black leather boots, some units issue reddish-brown leather boots for historical reasons — the paratroopers, combat medics, Nahal and Kfir brigades, as well as some SF units (Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces , which is subordinated to the intelligence directorate Aman. First and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines to obtain strategic intelligence, Sayeret Matkal is also...

, Oketz
Unit Oketz
The Oketz Unit , is the independent canine special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded in 1939 as part of Haganah. The unit specializes in training and handling dogs for military applications. Originally, Oketz trained dogs to attack kidnappers, but training has since become...

, Duvdevan
Duvdevan Unit
Duvdevan is an elite special forces unit within the Israel Defense Forces, directly subordinate to the West Bank Division and the Paratroopers Brigade. Duvdevan are particularly noted for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas...

, Maglan
Maglan
Maglan is an Israeli Special Forces unit which specializes in operating behind enemy lines and deep in enemy territory using advanced technologies and weaponry....

, Counter-Terror School). Women are also issued sandal
Sandal (footwear)
Sandals are an open type of outdoor footwear, consisting of a sole held to the wearer's foot by straps passing over the instep and, sometimes, around the ankle...

s.

Insignia



IDF soldiers have three types of insignia (other than rank insignia) which identify their corps, specific unit, and position.

A pin attached to the beret identifies a soldier's corps. Soldiers serving in staffs above corps level are often identified by the General Corps pin, despite not officially belonging to it, or the pin of a related corps. New recruits undergoing basic training
Basic Training
Basic Training may refer to:* Basic Training, a 1971 American documentary directed by Frederick Wiseman* Basic Training , an American sex comedy* Recruit training...

 (tironut
Tironut
Tironut is the Hebrew name for the recruit training of the Israel Defense Forces . In the IDF, recruit training comes in many difficulty levels, each corps or major unit having their own training program. After the tironut, a recruit is certified as a rifleman of a level that depends on the...

) do not have a pin. Beret colors are also often indicative of the soldier's corps, although most non-combat corps do not have their own beret, and sometimes wear the color of the corps to which the post they're stationed in belongs. Individual units are identified by a shoulder tag attached to the left shoulder strap
Shoulder strap
A shoulder strap is a strap over a shoulder. They are often affixed to women's dresses to support its weight or as part of its style. The term is also applied to carrying bags and to epaulettes.-Carrier shoulder strap:...

. Most units in the IDF have their own tags, although those that do not, generally use tags identical to their command's tag (corps, directorate, or regional command).

While one cannot always identify the position/job of a soldier, two optional factors help make this identification: an aiguillette
Aiguillette
An aiguillette is an ornamental braided cord most often worn on uniforms, but may also be observed on other costumes such as academic dress, where it will denote an honour. Originally, the word "aiguillette" referred to the lacing used to fasten plate armor together...

 attached to the left shoulder strap and shirt pocket, and a pin indicating the soldier's work type (usually given by a professional course). Other pins may indicate the corps or additional courses taken. Finally, an optional battle pin indicates a war that a soldier has fought in.

Military service routes


The military service is held in three different tracks:
  • Regular service (שירות חובה) – mandatory military service which is held according to the Israeli security service law.
  • Permanent Service (שירות קבע) – military service which is held as part of a contractual agreement between the IDF and the permanent position holder.
  • Reserve service (שירות מילואים) – a military service in which citizens are called for active duty of at most a month every year, for training activities and ongoing defense activities and especially for the purpose of increasing the military forces in case of a war.


Sometimes the IDF would also hold pre-military courses (קורס קדם צבאי or קד"צ) for soon to be regular service soldiers.

The Israeli Manpower Directorate (אגף משאבי אנוש) at the Israeli General Staff is the body which coordinates and assembles activities related to the control over human resources and its placement.

Regular service



National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although Arab (but not Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

) citizens are exempted if they so please, and other exceptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds (see Profile 21
Profile 21
Profile 21 is a code used by the military of Israel to classify Israelis who are deemed to have physical or psychological disabilities making them permanently unfit for military service...

).

Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two. The IDF women who volunteer for several combat positions often serve for three years, due to the longer period of training. Women in other positions, such as programmers, who also require lengthy training time, may also serve three years. Women in most combat positions are also required to serve in the reserve for several years after they leave regular service.

Some distinguished recruits are selected to be trained in order to eventually become members of special forces units
Sayeret
Sayeret , literally means "reconnaissance unit" in the Israel Defense Forces . In practice, these units specialize in commando and other special forces roles, in addition to reconnaissance...

. Every brigade in the IDF has its own special force branch.

Career soldiers are paid on average NIS 23,000 a month, fifty times the NIS 460 paid to conscripts.

Permanent service


Permanent service is designed for soldiers who choose to continue serving in the army after their regular service, for a short or long period, and in many cases making the military their career. Permanent service usually begins immediately after the mandatory Regular service period, but there are also soldiers who get released from military at the end of the mandatory Regular service period and who get recruited back to the military as Permanent service soldiers in a later period.

Permanent service is based on a contractual agreement between the IDF and the permanent position holder. The service contract defines how long the soldier's service would be, and towards the end of the contract period a discussion may rise on the extension of the soldier's service duration. Many times, regular service soldiers are required to commit to a permanent service after the mandatory Regular service period, in exchange for assigning them in military positions which require a long training period.

In exchange for the Permanent service, the Permanent service soldiers receive full wages, and when serving for a long period as a permanent service soldier, they are also entitled for a pension from the army. This right is given to the Permanent service soldiers in a relatively early stage of their life in comparison to the rest of the Israeli retirees.

Reserve service



After personnel complete their regular service, the IDF may call up men for:
  • reserve service of up to one month annually, until the age of 43–45 (reservists may volunteer after this age)
  • active duty immediately in times of crisis


In most cases, the reserve duty is carried out in the same unit for years, in many cases the same unit as the active service and by the same people. Many soldiers who have served together in active service continue to meet in reserve duty for years after their discharge, causing reserve duty to become a strong male bonding
Male bonding
Male bonding is a term that is used in ethology, social science, and in general usage to describe patterns of friendship and/or cooperation in men...

 experience in Israeli society.

Although still available for call-up in times of crisis, most Israeli men, and virtually all women, do not actually perform reserve service in any given year. Units do not always call up all of their reservists every year, and a variety of exemptions are available if called for regular reserve service. Virtually no exemptions exist for reservists called up in a time of crisis, but experience has shown that in such cases (most recently, the 2006 Lebanon War) exemptions are rarely requested or exercised; units generally achieve recruitment rates above those considered fully manned.

Legislation (set to take effect by March 13, 2008) has proposed reform in the reserve service, lowering the maximum service age to 40, designating it as a purely emergency force, as well as many other changes to the structure (although the Defence Minister can suspend any portion of it at any time for security reasons). The age threshold for many reservists whose positions are not listed, though, will be fixed at 49.

Non-IDF service


Other than the National Service (Sherut Leumi
Sherut Leumi
Sherut Leumi is an alternative voluntary national service in Israel for those that cannot or do not wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces...

), IDF conscripts may serve in bodies other than the IDF in a number of ways.

The combat option is Israel Border Police
Israel Border Police
The Israel Border Police is the gendarmerie and border security branch of the Israel National Police. It is also commonly known by its Hebrew abbreviation Magav , meaning border guard, whilst its members are colloquially known as Magavnikim . Border Guard is often used as the official name of the...

 (Magav – the exact translation from Hebrew means "border guard") service, part of the Israel Police
Israel Police
The Israel Police is the civilian police force of Israel. As with most other police forces in the world, its duties include crime fighting, traffic control, maintaining public safety, and counter-terrorism...

. Some soldiers complete their IDF combat training and later undergo additional counter terror and Border Police training. These are assigned to Border Police units. The Border Police units fight side by side with the regular IDF combat units though to a lower capacity. They are also responsible for security in heavy urban areas such as Jerusalem and security and crime fighting in rural areas.

Non-combat services include the Mandatory Police Service (Shaham) program, where youth serve in the Israeli Police, Israel Prison Service
Israel Prison Service
The Israel Prison Service , commonly known in Israel by its acronym Shabas , is the prison service of Israel. It is responsible for maintaining civilian prisons in Israel, as well as detention centers for security prisoners. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security...

, or other wings of the Israeli Security Forces
Israeli Security Forces
Security forces in Israel include a variety of organizations, including law enforcement, military, paramilitary, governmental, and intelligence agencies.-Military:...

 instead of the regular army service.

Women


Israel is the only nation to conscript
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 women and assign some of them to infantry combatant service which places them directly in the line of enemy fire.

Civilian pilot and aeronautical engineer Alice Miller successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to take the Israeli Air Force pilot training exams, after being rejected on grounds of gender. Though president Ezer Weizman
Ezer Weizman
' was the seventh President of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense.-Biography:...

, a former IAF commander, told Miller that she'd be better off staying home and darning socks, the court eventually ruled in 1996 that the IAF could not exclude qualified women from pilot training. Even though Miller would not pass the exams, the ruling was a watershed, opening doors for women in new IDF roles. Female legislators took advantage of the momentum to draft a bill allowing women to volunteer for any position, if they could qualify.

In 2000, the Equality amendment to the Military Service law stated that the right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men. Women have taken part in Israel’s military before and since the founding of the state in 1948, Women started to enter combat support and light combat roles in a few areas, including the Artillery Corps, infantry units and armored divisions. A few platoons named Karakal were formed for men and women to serve together in light infantry. By 2000 Karakal became a full-fledged battalion
Caracal Battalion
The Caracal Battalion is an infantry combat battalion of the Israel Defense Forces, composed of both male and female soldiers, of both Jewish and Arab descent. It is named after the Caracal, a small cat whose sexes appear the same. As of 2009, approximately 70% of the battalion was female...

. Many women would also join the Border Police.

Minorities in the IDF


Non-Jewish minorities tended to serve in one of several special units: the Minorities Unit
Unit of the Minorities
The IDF Sword Battalion is an Arabic-speaking unit of the Israel Defense Forces, also known as Unit 300 and formerly known as the IDF Minorities Unit. Non-Jewish minorities also serve in the Druze Reconnaissance Unit and the Bedouin Trackers Unit...

, also known as Unit 300; the Druze Reconnaissance Unit; and the Trackers Unit, which comprised mostly Bedouins. In 1982 the IDF general staff decided to integrate the armed forces by opening up other units to minorities, while placing some Jewish conscripts in the Minorities Unit. Until 1988 the intelligence corps and the air force remained closed to minorities.

Druze and Circassians



Israel, being a Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 state, has a majority of Jewish soldiers. Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and Circassian men are subject to mandatory conscription to the IDF just like Israeli Jews. Originally, they served in the framework of a special unit called "The Minorities' Unit", which still exists today, in the form of the independent Herev ("Sword") battalion. However, since the 1980s Druze soldiers have increasingly protested this practice, which they considered a means of segregating them and denying them access to elite units (like sayeret
Sayeret
Sayeret , literally means "reconnaissance unit" in the Israel Defense Forces . In practice, these units specialize in commando and other special forces roles, in addition to reconnaissance...

 units). The army has increasingly admitted Druze soldiers to regular combat units and promoted them to higher ranks from which they had been previously excluded. In recent years, several Druze officers have reached ranks as high as Major General and many have received commendations for distinguished service. It is important to note that, proportionally to their numbers, the Druze people achieve much higher—documented—levels in the Israeli army than other soldiers. Nevertheless, some Druze still charge that discrimination continues, such as exclusion from the Air Force, although the official low security classification for Druze has been abolished for some time. The first Druze aircraft navigator completed his training course in 2005; his identity is protected as are those of all air force pilots. After the battle of Ramat Yohanan
Ramat Yohanan
Ramat Yohanan is a kibbutz in northern Israel. Located near Kiryat Ata, it falls under the jurisdiction of Zevulun Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 751....

 during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, approximately 1,000 Syrian Druze soldiers and officers deserted and joined Israel.

Since the late 1970s the Druze Initiative Committee, centered at the village of Beit Jan and linked to the Israeli Communist Party, has campaigned to abolish Druze conscription.

Military service is a tradition among some of the Druze population, with most opposition in Druze communities of the Golan Heights; 83 percent of Druze boys serve in the army, according to the IDF's statistics. According to the Israeli army, 369 Druze soldiers have been killed in combat operations since 1948.

Bedouins and Israeli Arabs



By law, all Israeli citizens are subject to conscription. The Defense Minister has complete discretion to grant exemption to individual citizens or classes of citizens. A long-standing policy dating to Israel's early years extends an exemption to all other Israeli minorities (most notably Israeli Arabs). However, there is a long-standing government policy of encouraging Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

s to volunteer and of offering them various inducements, and in some impoverished Bedouin communities a military career seems one of the few means of (relative) social mobility available. Also, Muslims and Christians are accepted as volunteers, even at an age greater than 18.

From among non-Bedouin Arab citizens, the number of volunteers for military service—some Christian Arabs and even a few Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Arabs—is minute, and the government makes no special effort to increase it. Six Israeli Arabs have received orders of distinction as a result of their military service; of them the most famous is a Bedouin officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abd el-Majid Hidr (also known as Amos Yarkoni
Amos Yarkoni
Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni , born as Abd el-Majid Hidr was a legendary officer in the Israel Defense Forces and one of six Israeli Arabs to have received the IDF's third highest decoration, the Medal of Distinguished Service...

), who received the Order of Distinction. Recently, a Bedouin officer was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Until the second term of Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 as Prime Minister (1992–1995), social benefits given to families in which at least one member (including a grandfather, uncle or cousin) had served at some time in the armed forces were significantly higher than to "non-military" families, which was considered a means of blatant discrimination between Jews and Arabs. Rabin had led the abolition of the measure, in the teeth of strong opposition from the Right. At present, the only official advantage from military service is the attaining of security clearance and serving in some types of government positions (in most cases, security-related), as well as some indirect benefits. In practice, however, a large number of Israeli employers placing "wanted" ads include the requirement "after military service" even when the job is in no way security-related, which is considered as a euphemism for "no Arab/Haredim need apply". The test of former military service is also frequently applied in admittance to various newly founded communities, effectively barring Arabs from living there. Also, the Israeli national airline El Al
El Al
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd , trading as El Al , is the flag carrier of Israel. It operates scheduled domestic and international services and cargo flights to Europe, North America, Africa and the Far East from its main base in Ben Gurion International Airport...

 hires only pilots who had served in the Air Force, which in practice excludes Arabs from the job.

On the other hand, non-Arab Israelis argue that the mandatory three-year (two years for women) military service puts them at a disadvantage, as they effectively lose three years of their life through their service in the IDF, while the Arab Israelis can start right into their jobs after school, or study at a university. In fact, the most frequently heard argument whenever the subject of the discrimination of Arabs comes up—whether on the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 floor, in the media or among ordinary citizens—is that the Arabs' "non fulfillment of military duty" justifies their exclusion from some or all the benefits of citizenship. The late former general Rafael Eitan
Rafael Eitan
Rafael "Raful" Eitan was an Israeli general, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces and later a politician, a Knesset member government minister...

, when he went into politics in the 1980s, proposed that the right to vote be linked to military service. The idea occasionally crops up again among right-wing groups and parties.

According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied territories, "Israeli Arabs were not required to perform mandatory military service and, in practice, only a small percentage of Israeli Arabs served in the military. Those who did not serve in the army had less access than other citizens to social and economic benefits for which military service was a prerequisite or an advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies
Subsidy
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...

, and employment, especially government or security-related industrial employment. Regarding the latter, for security reasons, Israeli Arabs generally were restricted from working in companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields."

Rather than perform army service, Israeli Arab youths have the option to volunteer to national service
Sherut Leumi
Sherut Leumi is an alternative voluntary national service in Israel for those that cannot or do not wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces...

 and receive benefits similar to those received by discharged soldiers. The volunteers are generally allocated to Arab populations, where they assist with social and community matters. there are 1,473 Arabs volunteering for national service. According to sources in the national service administration, Arab leaders are counseling youths to refrain from performing services to the state. According to a National Service official, "For years the Arab leadership has demanded, justifiably, benefits for Arab youths similar to those received by discharged soldiers. Now, when this opportunity is available, it is precisely these leaders who reject the state's call to come and do the service, and receive these benefits".

Although Arabs are not obligated to serve in IDF, any Arab can volunteer. A Muslim Arab woman is currently serving as a medic with unit 669.

Cpl. Elinor Joseph
Elinor Joseph
Elinor Joseph is an Israeli soldier who has served with the Caracal Battalion of the Israel Defense Forces since 2010. She is the first Arab woman ever to serve in a combat role in the Israeli army.-Background:...

 from Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 has become a first Arab combat soldier for IDF. Elinor says:
Hisham Abu Varia is the first Israeli Arab Muslim Officer in the IDF and is currently a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

.

Ethiopian Jews



The IDF carried out extended missions in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 and neighboring states, whose purpose was to protect Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) and to help their immigration to Israel. The IDF adopted policies and special activities for absorption and integration of Ethiopian immigrant soldiers, which resulted in great positive impact on the achievements and integration of those soldiers in the army as well as Israeli society in general. Statistical research showed that the Ethiopian soldiers are esteemed as excellent soldiers and many aspire to be recruited to combat units.

Haredim



Men in the Haredi
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 community may choose to defer service while enrolled in yeshivot
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

(see Tal committee), a practice that has given rise to tension between the Israeli religious and secular communities. While options exist for Haredim to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, most Haredim do not choose to serve in the IDF.

The Haredi public has the option of serving in the 97th "Netzah Yehuda" Infantry Battalion
Netzah Yehuda Battalion
The Netzah Yehuda Battalion is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces . The purpose of the unit is to allow religious Israelis to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant...

. This unit is a standard IDF infantry battalion focused on the Jenin
Jenin
Jenin is the largest town in the Northern West Bank, and the third largest city overall. It serves as the administrative center of the Jenin Governorate and is a major agricultural center for the surrounding towns. In 2007, the city had a population of 120,004 not including the adjacent refugee...

 region. To allow Haredi soldiers to serve, the Netzah Yehuda bases follow the highest standards of Jewish dietary laws and the only women permitted on these bases are wives of soldiers and officers. Additionally, some Haredim serve in the IDF via the Hesder
Hesder
Hesder is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework...

 system of a 5 year program which includes 2 years of religious studies, 1½ years of military service and 1½ years of religious studies during which the soldiers can be recalled to active duty immediately. They are permitted to join the other units of the IDF as well.

LGBT people


Israel is one of 24 nations that allow openly gay individuals to serve in the military. Since the early 1990s, sexual identity presents no formal barrier in terms of soldiers' military specialization or eligibility for promotion.

Up until the 1980s, the IDF tended to discharge soldiers who were openly gay. In 1983, the IDF permitted homosexuals to serve, but banned them from intelligence and top-secret positions. A decade later, Professor Uzi Even, an IDF reserves officer and chairman of Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

’s Chemistry Department revealed that his rank had been revoked and that he had been barred from researching sensitive topics in military intelligence, solely because of his sexual identity.
His testimony to the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 in 1993 raised a political storm, forcing the IDF to remove such restrictions against gays.

The chief of staff's policy states that it is strictly forbidden to harm or hurt anyone's dignity or feeling based on their gender or sexual orientation in any way, including signs, slogans, pictures, poems, lectures, any means of guidance, propaganda, publishing, voicing, and utterance. Moreover, gays in the IDF have additional rights, such as the right to take a shower alone if they want to. According to a University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Barbara
The University of California, Santa Barbara, commonly known as UCSB or UC Santa Barbara, is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. The main campus is located on a site in Goleta, California, from Santa Barbara and northwest of Los...

 study, a brigadier general stated that Israelis show a "great tolerance" for gay soldiers. Consul David Saranga
David Saranga
David Saranga is an Israeli diplomat and former Consul for Media and Public Affairs of Israel in the United States. Saranga was responsible for Israel’s image in the United States and was the liaison person of Israel to the American media...

 at the Israeli Consulate in New York, who was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times, said, “It's a non-issue. You can be a very good officer, a creative one, a brave one, and be gay at the same time.”

Overseas volunteers


Non-immigrating foreign volunteers typically serve with the IDF in one of three ways:
  • The Mahal program targets young non-Israeli Jews (men younger than 24 and women younger than 21). The program consists typically of 14.5–18 months of IDF service, including a lengthy training for those in combat units or (for 18 months) one month of non-combat training and additional two months of learning Hebrew after enlisting, if necessary. Volunteering for longer service is possible. There are two additional subcategories of Mahal, both geared solely for religious men: Mahal Nahal Haredi
    Netzah Yehuda Battalion
    The Netzah Yehuda Battalion is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces . The purpose of the unit is to allow religious Israelis to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant...

     (16 months), and Mahal Hesder
    Hesder
    Hesder is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework...

    , which combines yeshiva study of 6.5 months with IDF service of 14.5 months, for a total of 21 months. Similar IDF programs exist for Israeli overseas residents.
  • Sar-El
    Sar-El
    Sar-El is a volunteer program of the Israel Defense Forces . Every year about 5,000 volunteers from overseas serve for two or three weeks with the IDF. Their job is neither paid nor armed and is mainly in the logistical, maintaining, catering, supply and medical services...

    , an organisation subordinate to the Israeli Logistics Corps, provides a volunteer program for non-Israeli citizens who are 17 years or older (or 15 if accompanied by a parent). The program is also aimed at Israeli citizens, aged 30 years or older, living abroad who did not serve in the Israeli Army and who now wish to finalize their status with the military. The program usually consists of three weeks of volunteer service on different rear army bases, doing non-combative work.
  • Garin Tzabar
    Garin Tzabar
    Garin Tzabar is a program that facilitates service in the Israel Defense Forces for children of Israelis and Diaspora Jews not living in Israel.-Background:...

     offers a program mainly for Israelis who emigrated with their parents to the United States at a young age. Although a basic knowledge of the Hebrew language is not mandatory, it is helpful. Of all the programs listed, only Garin Tzabar requires full-length service in the IDF. The program is set up in stages: first the participants go through five seminars in their country of origin, then have an absorption period in Israel at a kibbutz
    Kibbutz
    A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

    . Each delegation is adopted by a kibbutz in Israel and has living quarters designated for it. The delegation shares responsibilities in the kibbutz when on military leave. Participants start the program three months before being enlisted in the army at the beginning of August.
  • Marva
    Marva
    Marva is a program in the Israel Defense Forces that allows young Jews to learn and experience the basics of IDF and Israeli life. Beginning in 1982, Marva operated out of a base in the Galilee, although it now is based at Sde Boker. It was originally associated with Gadna, youth battalions,...

     is short-term basic training for two months.

Doctrine



Mission


The IDF mission is to "defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life."

Basic points

  • Israel cannot afford to lose a single war
  • Defensive on the strategic level, no territorial ambitions
  • Desire to avoid war by political means and a credible deterrent posture
  • Preventing escalation
  • Determine the outcome of war quickly and decisively
  • Combating terrorism
  • Very low casualty ratio

Prepare for defense

  • A small standing army
    Standing army
    A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

     with an early warning capability, regular air force and navy
  • An efficient reserve mobilization and transportation system

Move to counterattack

  • Multi-arm coordination
  • Transferring the battle to enemy territory quickly
  • Quick attainment of war objectives

Code of conduct


In 1992, the IDF drafted a Code of Conduct that combines international law, Israeli law, Jewish heritage and the IDF's own traditional ethical code—the IDF Spirit .

Stated values of the IDF



The document defines three core values for all IDF soldiers to follow, as well as ten secondary values (the first being most important, and the others appearing sorted in Hebrew alphabetical order):

Core values:
  • Defense of the State, its Citizens and its Residents – "The IDF's goal is to defend the existence of the State of Israel, its independence and the security of the citizens and residents of the state."
  • Love of the Homeland and Loyalty to the Country – "At the core of service in the IDF stand the love of the homeland and the commitment and devotion to the State of Israel-a democratic state that serves as a national home for the Jewish People-its citizens and residents."
  • Human Dignity – "The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position."


Other values:
  • Tenacity of Purpose in Performing Missions and Drive to Victory – "The IDF servicemen and women will fight and conduct themselves with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; They will persevere in their missions resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering their lives."
  • Responsibility
    Moral responsibility
    Moral responsibility usually refers to the idea that a person has moral obligations in certain situations. Disobeying moral obligations, then, becomes grounds for justified punishment. Deciding what justifies punishment, if anything, is a principle concern of ethics.People who have moral...

    – "The IDF servicemen or women will see themselves as active participants in the defense of the state, its citizens and residents. They will carry out their duties at all times with initiative, involvement and diligence with common sense and within the framework of their authority, while prepared to bear responsibility for their conduct."
  • Credibility
    Credibility
    Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.Traditionally, modern, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components. Trustworthiness is based more on subjective...

    – "The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks."
  • Personal Example – "The IDF servicemen and women will comport themselves as required of them, and will demand of themselves as they demand of others, out of recognition of their ability and responsibility within the military and without to serve as a deserving role model."
  • Human Life – "The IDF servicemen and women will act in a judicious and safe manner in all they do, out of recognition of the supreme value of human life. During combat they will endanger themselves and their comrades only to the extent required to carry out their mission."
  • Purity of Arms
    Purity of Arms
    The code of purity of arms is one of the values stated in the Israel Defense Force's official doctrine of ethics, The Spirit of the IDF....

    – "The soldier shall make use of his weaponry and power only for the fulfillment of the mission and solely to the extent required; he will maintain his humanity even in combat. The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, body, honor and property."
  • Professionalism – "The IDF servicemen and women will acquire the professional knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks, and will implement them while striving continuously to perfect their personal and collective achievements."
  • Discipline – "The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders."
  • Comradeship – "The IDF servicemen and women will act out of fraternity and devotion to their comrades, and will always go to their assistance when they need their help or depend on them, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking their lives."
  • Sense of Mission – "The IDF soldiers view their service in the IDF as a mission; They will be ready to give their all in order to defend the state, its citizens and residents. This is due to the fact that they are representatives of the IDF who act on the basis and in the framework of the authority given to them in accordance with IDF orders."

Military ethics of fighting terror



In 2005, Asa Kasher
Asa Kasher
Asa Kasher is an Israeli philosopher and linguist working at Tel Aviv University, Israel.-Biography:He is noted for authorship of Israel Defense Forces's Code of Conduct...

 and Amos Yadlin
Amos Yadlin
Aluf Amos Yadlin is a former general in the Israeli Air Force and was the head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, known as Aman. Before being promoted to head of Aman, Yadlin was the Israel Defense Forces military attaché to Washington, D.C.. Previously in his career he headed...

 co-authored a noticed article published in the Journal of Military Ethics under the title : "Military Ethics of Fighting Terror: An Israeli Perspective". The article was meant as an "extension of the classical Just War Theory", and as a "[needed] third model" or missing paradigm besides which of "classical war (army) and law enforcement (police).", resulting in a "doctrine (...) on the background of the IDF fight against acts and activities of terror performed by Palestinian individuals and organizations."

In this article, Kasher and Yadlin came to the conclusion that targeted killing
Targeted killing
Targeted killing is the deliberate, specific targeting and killing, by a government or its agents, of a supposed terrorist or of a supposed "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody...

s of terrorists were justifiable, even at the cost of hitting nearby civilians. In a 2009 interview to Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

, Asa Kasher later confirmed, pointing to the fact that in an area in which the IDF does not have effective security control (e.g., Gaza, vs. Est-Jerusalem), soldiers' lives protection takes priority over avoiding injury to enemy civilians. Some, along with Avishai Margalit
Avishai Margalit
Avishai Margalit is the George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:Avishai Margalit grew up in Jerusalem. He was educated in Jerusalem and did his army service in the airborne...

 and Michael Walzer
Michael Walzer
Michael Walzer is a prominent American political philosopher and public intellectual. A professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, he is co-editor of Dissent, an intellectual magazine that he has been affiliated with since his years as an undergraduate at...

, have recused this argument, advancing that such position was "contrary to centuries of theorizing about the morality of war as well as international humanitarian law", since drawing "a sharp line between combatants and noncombatants" would be "the only morally relevant distinction that all those involved in a war can agree on."

The article was intended to (then Chief of Staff) Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon is an Israeli politician and former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. He currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud, as well as the country's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs.-Early life:...

, to serve as a basis for a new "code of conduct". Although Moshe Ya'alon did endorse the article's views, and is reported to have presented it numerous times before military forums, it was never actually turned into a biding IDF document or an actual "code", neither by Ya'alon nor its successors. However, the document have since reportedly been adapted to serve as educational material, designed to emphasizes the right behavior in low intensity warfare against terrorists, where soldiers must operate within a civilian population.

As of today "The Spirit of the IDF" (cf. supra) is still considered the only biding moral code that formally applies to the IDF troops. In 2009, Amos Yadlin
Amos Yadlin
Aluf Amos Yadlin is a former general in the Israeli Air Force and was the head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, known as Aman. Before being promoted to head of Aman, Yadlin was the Israel Defense Forces military attaché to Washington, D.C.. Previously in his career he headed...

 (then head of Military Intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

) suggested that the article he co-authored with Asa Kasher
Asa Kasher
Asa Kasher is an Israeli philosopher and linguist working at Tel Aviv University, Israel.-Biography:He is noted for authorship of Israel Defense Forces's Code of Conduct...

 be ratified as a formal binding code, arguing that "the current code ['The Spirit of the IDF'] does not sufficiently address one of the army's most pressing challenges: asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

 against terrorist organizations that operate amid a civilian population".

The 11 key points highlighted in the article and educational material mentioned above :
  1. Military action can be taken only against military targets.
  2. The use of force must be proportional.
  3. Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF.
  4. Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked.
  5. Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners.
  6. Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested.
  7. Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to themselves and to enemies.
  8. Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal.
  9. Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts.
  10. Soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles.
  11. Soldiers must report all violations of this code.

Budget



During 1950–66, Israel spent an average of 9% of its GDP on defense. Defense expenditures increased dramatically after both the 1967 and 1973 wars. They reached a high of about 24% of GDP in the 1980s, but have since come back down to about 9%, about $15 billion, following the signing of peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. In 2008, Israel spent $16.2 billion on its armed forces, making it the country with the biggest ratio of defense spending to GDP and as a percentage of the budget of all developed countries.($2,300 per person).

On September 30, 2009 Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 endorsed an additional NIS 1.5 billion for the defense budget to help Israel address problems regarding Iran. The budget changes came two months after Israel had approved its current two-year budget. The defense budget in 2009 stands at NIS 48.6 billion and NIS 53.2 billion for 2010 – the highest amount in Israel's history. The figure constitutes 6.3% of expected gross domestic product and 15.1% of the overall budget, even before the planned NIS 1.5 billion addition.

However in 2011, Netanyahu reversed course and moved to make "perilous" cuts in the defense budget in order to pay for social programs. The General Staff concluded that the armed forces could not maintain their battle readiness under the proposed cuts.


Military technology


The IDF possesses top-of-the-line weapons and computer systems used and recognized worldwide. Some gear comes from the US (with some equipment modified for IDF use) such as the M4A1 assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

, the M24 SWS
M24 SWS
The M24 Sniper Weapon System is the military and police version of the Remington 700 rifle, M24 being the model name assigned by the United States Army after adoption as their standard sniper rifle in 1988...

 7.62 mm bolt action sniper rifle
Sniper rifle
In military and law enforcement terminology, a sniper rifle is a precision-rifle used to ensure more accurate placement of bullets at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for optimal levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military...

, the SR-25
SR-25
The SR-25 is a semi-automatic sniper rifle designed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured by Knight's Armament Company. The SR-25 uses a rotating bolt and a direct impingement gas system. It is loosely based on Stoner's AR-10, rebuilt in its original 7.62×51mm NATO caliber...

 7.62 mm semi-automatic sniper rifle, the F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

 and F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

, and the AH-64D Apache and AH-1 Cobra
AH-1 Cobra
The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It shares a common engine, transmission and rotor system with the older UH-1 Iroquois...

 attack helicopter
Attack helicopter
An attack helicopter is a military helicopter with the primary role of an attack aircraft, with the capability of engaging targets on the ground, such as enemy infantry and armored vehicles...

s. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 also has developed its own independent weapons industry, which has developed weapons and vehicles such as the Merkava
Merkava
The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1974 and was first introduced in 1978. Four main versions of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War...

 battle tank series, the Kfir
KFIR
KFIR is a radio station licensed to Sweet Home, Oregon, USA, the station serves the Willamette Valley. Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Salem, Sweet Home. News/Talk with Dennis Miller, Glenn Beck, Lars Larson, & Coast to Coast weekdays. The station is currently owned by Radio Fiesta Network,...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

, and various small arms such as the Galil
IMI Galil
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd of Ramat HaSharon...

 and Tavor assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

s, and the Uzi submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 has also installed a variant of the Samson RCWS, a remote controlled weapons platform, which can include machine guns, grenade launchers, and anti-tank missiles on a remotely operated turret, in pillboxes along the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier
Israeli Gaza Strip barrier
The Israel and Egypt − Gaza Strip barrier is a separation barrier first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. An addition to the barrier was finished in 2005 to separate the Gaza Strip and Egypt....

 intended to prevent Palestinian militants from entering its territory.

The IDF also has several large internal research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 departments, and it purchases many technologies produced by the Israeli security industries including IAI
Israel Aircraft Industries
Israel Aerospace Industries or IAI is Israel's prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial systems for both military and civilian usage. It has 16,000 employees as of 2007...

, IMI
Israel Military Industries
Israel Weapons Industries , formerly the "Magen" division of the Israel Military Industries Ltd. is an Israeli firearms manufacturer. In 2005, the Small Arms Division of IMI was privatized....

, Elbit Systems
Elbit Systems
Elbit Systems Ltd. is one of the world's largest defense electronics manufacturers and integrators. Established in 1967, and based in Haifa, Israel, Elbit employs 11,000 people worldwide....

, Rafael, and dozens of smaller firms. Many of these developments have been battle-tested in Israel's numerous military engagements, making the relationship mutually beneficial, the IDF getting tailor-made solutions and the industries a very high repute.

In response to the price overruns on the US Littoral Combat Ship
Littoral combat ship
A Littoral Combat Ship is a type of relatively small surface vessel intended for operations in the littoral zone . It is "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals." Two ship classes are the first...

 program, Israel is considering producing their own warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s, which would take a decade and depend on diverting US financing to the project.

Main developments


Israel's military technology is most famous for its firearms, armored fighting vehicles (tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s, tank-converted armored personnel carriers (APCs), armoured bulldozers, etc.), unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s, and rocketry (missiles and rockets). Israel also has manufactured aircraft including the Kfir
IAI Kfir
The Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir is an Israeli-built all-weather, multirole combat aircraft based on a modified Dassault Mirage 5 airframe, with Israeli avionics and an Israeli-made version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.-Background:...

 (reserve), IAI Lavi
IAI Lavi
The IAI Lavi was a combat aircraft developed in Israel in the 1980s. It was a multi-billion dollar fighter aircraft project that was disbanded when the Israeli government concluded it could not finance production on its own, could not achieve a consensus on the Lavi's cost-effectiveness and...

 (canceled), and the IAI Phalcon
IAI Phalcon
The IAI EL/M-2075 Phalcon is an Airborne Early Warning and Control radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel. Its primary objective is to provide intelligence to maintain air superiority and conduct surveillance...

 Airborne early warning
Airborne Early Warning
An airborne early warning and control system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack plane strikes...

 System
System
System is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole....

, and naval systems (patrol and missile ships). Much of the IDF's electronic systems (intelligence, communication, command and control, navigation etc.) are Israeli-developed, including many systems installed on foreign platforms (esp. aircraft, tanks and submarines), as are many of its precision-guided munition
Precision-guided munition
A precision-guided munition is a guided munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, and to minimize damage to things other than the target....

s.

Israel is the only country in the world with an operational anti-ballistic missile defense system on the national level – the Arrow system, jointly funded and produced by Israel and the United States. The Iron Dome
Iron Dome
Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system in development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells. The system was created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel's civilian population on its northern and southern...

 system against short-range rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s is operational and proved to be successful. David's Sling
David's Sling
David's Sling , also sometimes called Magic Wand , is an Israel Defense Forces military system being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and cruise...

, an anti-missile system designed to counter medium range rocket
Medium-range ballistic missile
A medium-range ballistic missile , is a type of ballistic missile with medium range, this last classification depending on the standards of certain organizations. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, a medium range missile is defined by having a maximum range of between 1,000 and 3,000 km1...

s is under development. Israel has also worked with the US on development of a tactical high energy laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 system against medium range rocket
Medium-range ballistic missile
A medium-range ballistic missile , is a type of ballistic missile with medium range, this last classification depending on the standards of certain organizations. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, a medium range missile is defined by having a maximum range of between 1,000 and 3,000 km1...

s (called Nautilus or THEL
Thel
Thel is a commune in the Rhône department in eastern France....

).

Israel has the independent capability of launching reconnaissance satellites into orbit, a capability shared with Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Italy, Germany, the People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Israeli security
Security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

 industries developed both the satellites (Ofeq
Ofeq
Ofeq, also spelled Offek or Ofek is the designation of a series of Israeli reconnaissance satellites first launched in 1988. All Ofeq satellites have been carried on top of Shavit rockets from Palmachim Airbase in Israel, on the Mediterranean coast. The Low Earth Orbit satellites complete one...

) and the launchers (Shavit
Shavit
Shavit is a space launch vehicle produced by Israel to launch small satellites into low earth orbit. It was first launched on September 19, 1988 , making Israel the eighth country to have a space launch capability after the USSR, United States, France, Japan, People's Republic of China, United...

).

Israel is known to have developed nuclear weapons. Israel does not officially acknowledge
Policy of deliberate ambiguity
A policy of deliberate ambiguity is the practice by a country of being intentionally ambiguous on certain aspects of its foreign policy or whether it possesses certain weapons of mass destruction...

 its nuclear weapons program.

From 2006 Israel deployed the Wolf Armoured Vehicle
Wolf Armoured Vehicle
The Wolf Armoured Vehicle is an armoured transport vehicle, used mainly by the Israeli Defence Force. It was created to provide a better handling and better protected armoured vehicle than the M113 . The Wolf is a heavily armoured crew carrier, manufactured by the Hatehof company...

 APC
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

 for use in urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

 and to protect VIP
VIP
VIP and V.I.P. is a three-letter acronym that may refer to:-In general:* Vacuum insulated panel* Values, Influence, and Peers, an anti-crime campaign in Ontario elementary schools* Variable Information Printing, a form of on-demand printing...

s.



France


Starting the Independence day on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyar 5708), a strong military, commercial and politics relationship were established between France and Israel until 1969. The high level of the military collaboration was reach between 1956 and 1966. At this time France provide almost all the aircrafts, tanks and military ships. In 1969 the French president Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 limited the export of weapons to Israel. This was the end of the "golden age" 20 years of relations between Israel and France.

United States


In 1983, the United States and Israel established a Joint Political Military Group
Joint Political Military Group
On November 29, 1983 a memorandum of agreement was set up between Israel and the United States regarding political, military and economic cooperation. Part of the agreement was for a Joint Political Military Group as a high-level planning forum to discuss and implement combined planning, joint...

, which convenes twice a year. Both the U.S. and Israel participate in joint military planning and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development. Additionally the U.S. military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 maintains two classified, pre-positioned War Reserve Stock
War Reserve Stock
A War Reserve Stock is a collection of warfighting material held in reserve in pre-positioned storage to be used if needed in wartime. They may be located strategically depending on where it is believed they will be needed. In addition to military equipment, a war reserve stock may include raw...

s in Israel valued at $493 million. Israel has the official distinction of being an American Major non-NATO ally
Major non-NATO ally
Major non-NATO ally is a designation given by the United States government to close allies who have strategic working relationships with US armed forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization...

. As a result of this, the US and Israel share the vast majority of their security and military technology.

Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. In 2009, Israel received $2.55 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants from the Department of Defense. All but 26% of this military aid is for the purchase of military hardware from American companies only.

The United States has an anti-missile system base in the Negev
Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

 region of Southern Israel, which is manned by 120 US Army personnel.

India




India and Israel enjoy strong military and strategic ties. Some analysts have dubbed the alliance between India and Israel as the new "axis in the war on terror", while Israeli authorities consider Indian citizens to be the most pro-Israel people in the world. Apart from being Israel's second-largest economic partner in Asia, India is also the largest customer of Israeli arms in the world. In 2006, annual military sales between India and Israel stood at US$900 million. Israeli defense firms had the largest exhibition at the 2009 Aero India
Aero India
Aero India is a biennial air show and aviation exhibition held in Bangalore, India at the Yelahanka Air Force Station. It is organized by Defence Exhibition Organisation, the Ministry of Defence and is held in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation , the Indian Air Force...

 show, during which Israel offered several state-of-the art weapons to India. The first major military deal between the two countries was the sale of Israeli EL/M-2075 AEW radars to the Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 in 2004. In March 2009, India and Israel signed a US$1.4 billion deal under which Israel would sell India an advanced air-defense system. India and Israel have also embarked on extensive space cooperation. In 2008, India's ISRO launched Israel's most technologically advanced spy satellite
Spy satellite
A spy satellite is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications....

 TecSAR
TecSAR
TecSAR, also known as TechSAR, Polaris and Ofek-8, is an Israeli reconnaissance satellite, equipped with synthetic aperture radar developed by Elta Systems...

. In 2009, India reportedly developed a high-tech spy satellite RISAT-2
RISAT-2
RISAT-2, or Radar Imaging Satellite 2 is an Indian radar reconnaissance satellite that is part of India's RISAT programme. It was successfully launched aboard a PSLV-CA at 01:15 GMT on April 20, 2009 from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre...

 with significant assistance from Israel. The satellite was successfully launched by India in April 2009.

Many analysts saw the 2008 Mumbai attacks
2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Islamist attackers who came from Pakistan...

 as an attack on the growing India-Israel partnership. In the past, India and Israel have held numerous joint anti-terror training exercises and it was also reported that in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, Israel was helping India launch anti-terror raids inside Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i territory.

Germany


Germany developed the Dolphin submarine
Dolphin class submarine
The Type 800 Dolphin class is a diesel-electric submarine developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG , Germany for the Israeli Navy. It is based on the export-only German 209 class submarines, but modified and reduced and is thus not seen as a member of the 209 family...

 and supplied it to Israel. The military co-operation has been discreet but mutually profitable: Israeli intelligence, for example, sent captured Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 armour to West Germany to be analysed. The results aided the German development of an anti-tank system
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

. The Israeli Merkava MK IV
Merkava
The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1974 and was first introduced in 1978. Four main versions of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War...

 tank uses a German V12 engine
V12 engine
A V12 engine is a V engine with 12 cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of six cylinders, usually but not always at a 60° angle to each other, with all 12 pistons driving a common crankshaft....

 produced under license, and its IMI 120 mm gun
IMI 120 mm gun
The IMI 120 mm gun is a smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by the Israeli Military Industries company. It is widely confused as a licensed production of the Rheinmetall L44 tank gun, however developed by Israeli Military Industries from 1983 to 1988, to meet the requirements of the...

.

In 2008, the website DefenseNews revealed that Germany and Israel had been jointly developing a nuclear warning system, dubbed Operation Bluebird.

United Kingdom


The United Kingdom has supplied equipment and spare parts for Sa'ar 4.5-class missile boats and F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers, components for small-caliber artillery ammunition and air-to-surface missiles, and engines for Elbit Hermes 450
Elbit Hermes 450
-Operators: *In June 2008, Azerbaijan ordered ten Hermes 450, choosing it over other drone models because of its "'invisibility' for the enemy's anti-aircraft defense." On September 12, 2011, a UAV was reportedly shot down by the air defense arm of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army over the...

 Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s. British arms sales to Israel mainly consist of light weaponry, and ammunition and components for helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and combat aircraft.

China


Israel is the second-largest foreign supplier of arms to the People's Republic of China, only after the Russian Federation. China has purchased a wide array of military hardware from Israel, including Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s and communications satellite
Communications satellite
A communications satellite is an artificial satellite stationed in space for the purpose of telecommunications...

s. China has become an extensive market for Israel's military industries and arms manufacturers, and trade with Israel has allowed it to obtain "dual-use" technology which the United States and European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 were reluctant to provide. In 2010 Yair Golan
Yair Golan
Aluf Yair Golan is a general in the Israel Defense Forces and currently the head of Israeli Northern Command.-Timeline of career:*1980: enlisted in the Paratroopers Brigade...

, head of IDF Home Front Command visited China to strengthen military ties.

Turkey


Israel has provided extensive military assistance to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. Israel sold Turkey IAI Heron
IAI Heron
The IAI Heron is a Medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the Malat division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 35,000 feet...

 Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s, and modernized Turkey's F-4 Phantom and Northrop F-5 aircraft at the cost of $900 million. Turkey's main battle tank
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

 is the Israeli-made Sabra
Sabra (tank)
The Sabra is an extensively upgraded M60 Patton tank developed by Israel Military Industries. A version of this upgrade package was selected for the Turkish Army's main battle tank modernization program. The Sabra is known as the M60T in Turkish service....

 tank, of which Turkey has 170. Israel later upgraded them for $500 million. Israel has also supplied Turkey with Israeli-made missiles, and the two nations have engaged in naval cooperation. Turkey allowed Israeli pilots to practice long-range flying over mountainous terrain in Turkey's Konya firing range, while Israel trains Turkish pilots at Israel's computerized firing range at Nevatim Airbase. Until 2009, the Turkish military was one of Israel's largest defense customers. Israel defense companies have sold unmanned aerial vehicles and long-range targeting pods.

However, relations have been strained in recent times. In the last two years, the Turkish military has declined to participate in the annual joint naval exercise with Israel and the United States. The exercise, known as "Reliant Mermaid" was started in 1998 and included the Israeli, Turkish and American navies. The objective of the exercise is to practice search-and-rescue operations and to familiarize each navy with international partners who also operate in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

.

Other countries


Israel has also sold or received supplies of military equipment from the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

.

See also


  • Israeli security forces
    Israeli Security Forces
    Security forces in Israel include a variety of organizations, including law enforcement, military, paramilitary, governmental, and intelligence agencies.-Military:...

  • Military history of Israel
  • Israeli wars
  • Military operations conducted by the Israel Defense Forces
  • Israeli casualties of war
  • Military equipment of Israel
    Military equipment of Israel
    The military equipment of Israel includes a wide array of arms, tanks, planes, cannons, armored vehicles. Many of these are purchased overseas. Up until the Six-Day War of 1967, the Israel Defense Forces' principal supplier was France, since then, it has been the United States government and...

  • Israel and weapons of mass destruction
    Israel and weapons of mass destruction
    Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

  • Palestinian political violence
    Palestinian political violence
    Palestinian political violence refers to acts of violence undertaken to further the Palestinian cause. These political objectives include self-determination in and sovereignty over Palestine, the liberation of Palestine and establishment of a Palestinian state, either in place of both Israel and...

  • Arab–Israeli conflict
    Arab–Israeli conflict
    The Arab–Israeli conflict refers to political tensions and open hostilities between the Arab peoples and the Jewish community of the Middle East. The modern Arab-Israeli conflict began with the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism towards the end of the nineteenth century, and intensified with the...

  • Israeli–Palestinian conflict
    Israeli–Palestinian conflict
    The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

  • Krav Maga
    Krav Maga
    Krav Maga is a noncompetitive eclectic self-defense system developed in Europe that involves striking techniques, wrestling and grappling. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient, brutal counter-attacks...



Further reading

  • Country Briefing: Israel, Jane's Defence Weekly
    Jane's Defence Weekly
    Jane's Defence Weekly is a weekly magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, edited by Peter Felstead. It is one of a number of military-related publications named after John F. T. Jane, an Englishman who first published Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships in 1898...

    , June 19, 1996

External links