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Nahal (acronym of Noar Halutzi Lohem, lit. Fighting Pioneer Youth) is an Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 infantry brigade. Historically, it refers to a program that combines military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and establishment of new agricultural settlements, often in outlying areas. Later, the program branched out into volunteering and social welfare projects.


In 1948, a gar'in (core group) of Jewish pioneers wrote to 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...

 requesting that members be allowed to do their military service as a group rather than being split up into different units at random. In response to this letter, Ben-Gurion created the Nahal program, which combined military service and farming.

Some 108 kibbutzim and agricultural settlements were established by the Nahal, many of them on Israel's borders. Nahal settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Arava
Arava can refer to:*Arava, Estonia, a village in Anija Commune, Harju County, Estonia.*Arabah, a section of the Great Rift Valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in Israel and Jordan....

 played an important role in Jordan's decision not to join the other Arab countries in attacking Israel during 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...


Gar'inei Nahal have served together in various army units, most famously in the Nahal Mutznakh (Airborne Nahal) battalion of the Paratroopers (Tzanhanim) Brigade
Paratroopers Brigade (IDF)
The Paratroopers Brigade , also known as the 35th Brigade, is a unit of paratroopers within the Israel Defense Forces , and forms a major part of the Infantry Corps....

, the reserve battalion of which was instrumental in the Israeli victory in the Battle of Jerusalem during the 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). Also, many Nahal-founded settlements are still thriving today in the Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, the 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'...

, and the 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...

 (as well as formerly in 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...

 and 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...

). Today, a gar'in is usually a group formed by a youth movement, such as the Israeli Scouts, for the purpose of volunteer work.

Nahal and Youth Command

Today, there are two distinct units carrying on the historical tradition and name of the Nahal. The first is a large, non-combat command belonging to the IDF Education Corps, whose primary responsibility is to organize and coordinate the volunteer-type programs and activities that made the original Nahal unit famous in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This command has a full staff of educational officers and soldiers, and also sponsors other endeavours such as Gadna
Gadna (Israel)
Gadna is an Israeli military program to prepare youth for their mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces or Border Police. A one week program of discipline and military learning run mostly by soldiers of the Nahal infantry brigade, as well as by soldiers recruited and trained...

, a week-long 'introduction' to the military for high-schoolers in which they become acquainted with the history, traditions, and routines of the military that they are about to join.

Lahakat HaNahal (The Nahal Band), a military music troupe known for its canonical Eretz Israel songs which have become classics. Many Israeli singers and entertainers began their careers in Lahakat HaNahal, among them Tuvya Tzafir, Neomy Polani and Gidi Gov
Gidi Gov
Gidi Gov , is an Israeli singer, TV host, entertainer and actor.Gov is married to playwright Anat Gov, with whom he has three children.- Early life :...

. The band was featured on the Israeli telenovela
A telenovela is a limited-run serial dramatic programming popular in Latin American, Portuguese, and Spanish television programming. The word combines tele, short for televisión or televisão , and novela, a Spanish or Portuguese word for "novel"...

 HaShir Shelanu
HaShir Shelanu
HaShir Shelanu is an Israeli daily comical musical drama that had finished its 4th season airing on the yes-5 Israeli Movie Channel and repeating on Israel channel 2.The last episode aired in April 2007.-Season 1:...


Nahal infantry brigade

The Nahal infantry brigade was formed in 1982 due to the growing need for infantry manpower in the wake of 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...

. Nahal brigade soldiers are distinguished by their light green berets, which earned them the nickname "sticklights" (Hebrew for glowsticks).

The 50th Battalion has a unique makeup. Two thirds of its companies are made up of groups that spend a year running programs in lower socio-economic communities before being drafted to the army, followed by a year and a half of training, serving in the same manner as other infantry units, another year of community service and a final ten months of infantry service. In 2010 Nahal soldiers from the 50th Battalion produced IDF Tick Tock, a viral video
Viral video
A viral video is one that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media and email...

 of themselves dancing as a flash mob
Flash mob
A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression...

 in the streets of Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...


The other third of the battalion, including the battalion's veteran combat companies, are made of Bnei Meshakim LePikud, nicknamed Mishkonim. The Mishkonim are youths from 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...

im and moshav
Moshav is a type of Israeli town or settlement, in particular a type of cooperative agricultural community of individual farms pioneered by the Labour Zionists during the second aliyah...

im, who, pass a two-day gibush (selection phase) prior to being drafted. After their initial training, they are sent, most often within the first year, to Command Sergeants' School. As a continuation of 50th Battalion tradition, they also complete a paratrooper course after their advanced infantry training.
A fourth Nahal battalion, the Gadsar (Reconnaissance battalion), was created in the early 1990s to serve as a special forces detachment for the brigade. Soldiers wishing to serve in this elite battalion must pass a three-day gibush, after which they are dispersed into specialized training programs for each of the three companies that make up the battalion: the Palsar (Reconnaissance Company), the Palnat (Anti-Tank Company, commonly known as the Orev company), and the Palhan (Engineering and Explosives Company). Soldiers in this battalion undergo an additional 8 months of training in 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...

, urban combat, navigation, camouflage, parachuting and other specialized courses. During periods of low intensity conflict, the companies serve as counter-terrorism forces, raiding terrorist homes and hideouts. Gadsar Nahal won the IDF Chief of Staff prize in 2010 for best land combat unit.

Awards and recognition

In 1984, Nahal was awarded the prestigious 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 special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

External links