Israel Defense Forces
|Commander in Chief :||Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Defense Minister:||Benny Gantz|
|Military Commander:||Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kochavi|
|Military leadership:||General Staff|
|Active soldiers:||approx. 160,000 (2016)|
|Conscription:||Women two years, men 30 months|
|Resilient population:||Men and women; Age 17–49: approximately 3,000,000|
|Eligibility for military service:||Age 17 and over|
|Share of soldiers in the total population:||1.8%|
|Military budget:||20.1 billion US dollars (2020)|
|Share of gross domestic product :||5.4% (2015)|
|Founding:||May 31, 1948|
The Israel Defense Forces ( Hebrew צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל 'Army of the Defense of Israel' , ; Hebrew acronym :צָהָ״ל Zahal , also Tzahal or Tsahal ; Arabic جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي, DMG Ǧayš ad-Difāʿ al-Isrāʾīlī ; English Israel Defense Forces , abbreviated IDF ) are the military of Israel . Around 176,500 men and women (33%) serve in their three branches of the armed forces , with an additional 630,000 reservists at their disposal. The Israel Defense Forces are widely recognized as the most powerful armed forces in the Middle East .
For the history of the Israel Defense Forces, see History of the Jewish Armed Forces in Palestine
The Israel Defense Forces were established on May 31, 1948, and emerged from underground organizations in the Yishuv , the Jewish community in Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The largest founding contingents came in particular from the Hagana and the Palmach , which fought against the British mandate in Palestine . The paramilitary sections of Irgun and Lechi , who rival the Hagana , were also integrated into the army.
It was founded in the turmoil of the Arab-Israeli War , which had been simmering since 1947 , when the competing Jewish organizations recognized the need for cooperation for the common Zionist cause. At this point in time, the armies of Transjordan , Iraq , Lebanon , Egypt and Syria , which were technically and organizationally far superior on paper , had invaded as a reaction to the establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. In the founding phase, the Israeli army had the following strengths:
- Golani Brigade (4,100 men)
- Carmeli Brigade (2300 men)
- Alexandroni Brigade (3600 men)
- Kiryati Brigade (2500 men)
- Givʿati Brigade (2300 men)
- Etzioni Brigade (3300 men)
- Mechanized brigade
- Panzer Brigade
- Oded Brigade
- Yiftah Brigade
- Harel Brigade
- Hanegev Brigade
Artillery, engineers and the air force were directly subordinate to the headquarters . The 1st to 6th Brigade belonged to the Hel Sadeh , a kind of territorial army made up of part-time soldiers with commanders from the ranks of Palmach. The 7th to 9th Brigade had emerged directly from Palmach and formed the core troops, but together only numbered 3,100 men. The Panzer Brigade, of whose two battalions one (the 82nd) was just two companies strong, had two stolen Cromwell tanks as an initial inventory . In addition to these 25,000 or so men, the same number of members of the Chel ha-Mishmar ( Hebrew חֵיל הַמִּשְׁמָר Chejl ha-Mischmar , German for 'Wachkorps' ), but at the beginning of the war there were just 10,000 rifles , 400 light and 180 medium machine guns as well as a handful of revolvers and submachine guns. In terms of artillery, Israel was able to field 763 grenade launchers only two 65 mm cannons from the 19th century with little ammunition.
With arms deliveries from the Soviet Union and especially Czechoslovakia (assault rifles and machine guns, as well as 25 Avia S-199 fighter planes) as well as Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers from almost all over the world (such as David Marcus ), the Israel Defense Forces succeeded in the to put a stop to the Arab armies and gradually take the offensive . The war ended with Israel's military victory, which from then on existed within the so-called “ Green Line ”. Instead of a peace treaty, four separate armistice agreements were concluded in 1949 because the war opponents refused to give Israel state recognition.
During the Suez Crisis , Israel participated in the British-French attempt to regain control of the nationalized Suez Canal and bring about the overthrow of Gamal Abdel Nasser . Although Israel succeeded in bringing large parts of the Sinai Peninsula under its control, it had to evacuate it after the political failure of the Anglo-French intervention.
At a secret meeting between the General Director of the Defense Ministry, Shimon Peres, and the Federal German Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss in Bonn in the late summer of 1957, Strauss acknowledged Germany's responsibility for the survival of the Jewish state, whose existence was threatened by hostile neighbors, and provided armaments aid and funding totaling 300 million German marks in prospect. Eight years before the two states entered into diplomatic relations, this marked the beginning of a defense cooperation that continues to this day. Israel wants to become more independent from France with the arms business
When Nasser closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping in 1967 , forced the withdrawal of UN troops from Sinai and deployed 1000 tanks and almost 100,000 soldiers on the borders of Israel, Israel opened the Six Day War with a preventive strike by the Israeli air forces against Egyptian air bases, which should anticipate a feared attack by the Arab states. Although Jordan and Syria intervened in the fighting, Israel controlled the Gaza Strip , the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights , the West Bank and East Jerusalem when the ceasefire occurred .
During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Egyptian and Syrian troops equipped with modern Soviet equipment were able to achieve considerable gains in territory in a surprise attack, thus placing Israel in a situation that threatened its very existence. The Israeli material losses were largely compensated by the USA in Operation Nickel Grass . A counter-offensive under the command of Ariel Sharon ultimately led to the collapse of the Egyptian attack.
In the north, there have been repeated armed conflicts with various militant groups in Lebanon, of which Hezbollah is still engaged in a low-intensity conflict with Israel today (see Operation Litani , Lebanon War 1982 , Operation Responsibility , Operation Fruits Of Anger, and Lebanon War 2006 ).
In the occupied territories, after the First and Second Intifada, at least in the West Bank, there was a certain degree of calm, while after the evacuation of the Gaza Strip in 2005 the spiral of conflict regularly escalated there (see Operation Cast Lead , Operation Cloud Pillar and Operation Protective Edge ).
|1948-1949||War of Independence|
|5th – 10th June 1967||Six Day War|
|1968||Battle of Karame||Attack on Fatah headquarters in Jordan|
|1968||Operation poison||Retaliatory attack on Beirut airport , destroying 13 aircraft|
|1969-1970||Attrition war||with Egypt|
|1972-1973||Operation Spring of Youth||Retaliation for taking Munich hostage during the Olympics|
|1973||Yom Kippur War|
|1976||Operation Entebbe||Hostage rescue in Uganda|
|1978||Operation Litani||Occupation of southern Lebanon|
|1981||Operation Opera||Destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor|
|1982||Operation Peace for Galilee||1st Lebanon War|
|October 1, 1985||Operation Wooden Leg||Bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunis , Tunisia|
|1993||Operation accountable||in southern Lebanon|
|1996||Operation Fruits of Wrath||in southern Lebanon|
|2002||Operation shield||in the West Bank|
|2004||Operation Rainbow||in the Gaza Strip|
|2004||Operation "Days of Penance"||in the Gaza Strip|
|2005||Israel's unilateral disengagement plan||in the Gaza Strip|
|2006||Operation Summer Rain||in the Gaza Strip|
|2006||Operation change of direction||2nd Lebanon War|
|2006||Operation autumn clouds||in the Gaza Strip|
|2008||Operation Cast Lead||in the Gaza Strip|
|May 31, 2010||Ship-to-Gaza incident|
|2012||Operation Pillar of Cloud||in the Gaza Strip|
|2014||Operation Protective Edge||in the Gaza Strip|
The Israeli army describes its mission as follows:
“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. "
"[Our 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 that threaten everyday life."
Basic deployment doctrine
The general operational doctrine of the Israel Defense Forces is shaped by the view that, due to its small territorial extent, Israel has no room for defensive war tactics. On the other hand, Israel today has no territorial claims with the exception of the Golan Heights and the West Bank . From this it is deduced that military conflicts, whether prepared or triggered by military escalations, must be prevented on a political level. The military supports this foreign policy guideline with an effective deterrent potential .
Should Israel nevertheless have to wage war, the primary goal of the armed forces is to usurp the strategic initiative and bring the war to an end quickly and with as few losses as possible. Therefore offensive tactics are in the foreground.
Because Israel has a smaller population compared to its neighbors, the opponents of most conflicts, the Israeli military is keen to suffer as few losses as possible. This is expressed e.g. B. in a doctrine that suicide missions to any of the few soldiers to lose explicitly bans on risky missions. Another example is the Merkava tank , which with a state-of-the-art extinguishing system and multiple evacuation hatches, a lot has been done to ensure that the crew can survive if the tank is destroyed. The basic idea is that Israel will find it much easier to get a new tank than to train a new crew.
In 2005 the Israel Defense Forces had a military budget of just under 9.4 billion US dollars . This gave them the largest defense budget in the world per capita . With 7.3% of the gross national income, it is an extraordinarily heavy burden on the Israeli economy for a democratic and market economy-oriented country; in 2002 it was as much as 9.2%. In the Middle East, only the armed forces of Saudi Arabia have a higher proportion. By comparison, the largest military budget in the United States has accounted for no more than 4.5% of gross national income for almost 15 years.
As a strategically important partner of the United States, for example in its categorization as an “important ally outside NATO” in 1989, Israel receives military development aid from them. During the Bush administration's first term from 2001 to 2005, Israel received just under US $ 10.5 billion in the Foreign Military Financing program. The allocation of these funds is, however, tied to the Israeli obligation to use this money exclusively to purchase American armaments that may only be used for the country's own needs. One of the most spectacular arms purchases in this program was the Israeli order for 102 F-16s in 2001. As of 2014, the Israeli armed forces were supported by the US with $ 3.1 billion in annual military aid. An additional $ 1 billion in aid was provided in the 2014 conflict with Gaza. Before the end of his term in office in autumn 2016, US President Obama agreed with Israeli representatives military aid amounting to 38 billion US dollars, spread over the next 10 years.
In the Israeli public, the debate about the budget of the armed forces is of great importance and is discussed annually in the course of the budget consultation of the Knesset . The calls for drastic cuts, which are also frequently made, are particularly sensational.
Since the armed forces of Israel are strongly geared towards symmetrical warfare - i.e. defense against its neighboring states - this permanent alert is also reflected in the budget. It was not until the 2000s, for example, that editions spread over several years became established. This procedure is a standard military-political procedure in other countries, but Israel considered the commitment to several years earlier an incalculable risk in view of its latent strategic threat.
The general staff
The armed forces are under the command of a general staff ( Hebrew הַמַּטֶּה הַכְּלָלִי שֶׁל צָהָ״ל, abbreviated in Hebrew מַטְכָּ"ל- Matkal ). The Chief of the General Staff ( Hebrew רָמַטְכָּ"ל- Ramatkal ) is the only one with the rank Raw-Aluf ( Hebrew רַב־אַלּוּף- comparable to a lieutenant general or general) and is the commander in chief of the armed forces. He reports directly to the Defense Minister and is therefore indirectly subordinate to the Prime Minister of Israel and his government. The Chiefs of Staff ( Ramatkalim ) are appointed by the government for three years on the proposal of the Defense Minister. However, the government has the right to extend his term of service to four (in exceptional cases five) years.
The post of Ramatkal represents a key position in Israel. From there, the next obvious career step leads into the Ministry of Defense and thus into politics. Compared with the chiefs of staff in other countries, the commanders in chief of the Israeli army were often very young. The victories of 1967, 1956, and 1948 were won under Generals Rabin (45 years), Dajan (41 years) and Jadin (32 years).
The chiefs of staff
The following list contains the chiefs of staff with the beginning and the end of their appointment:
1. Jaakow Dori :
June 16, 1947 -
November 9, 1949
2. Jigael Jadin :
November 9, 1949 -
December 7, 1952
3. Mordechai Maklef :
December 7, 1952 -
December 6, 1953
4. Moshe Dayan :
December 6, 1953 -
January 29, 1958
5. Chaim Laskow :
January 29, 1958 -
January 1, 1961
6. Tzvi Tzur :
January 1, 1961 -
January 1, 1964
7. Yitzchak Rabin :
January 1, 1964 -
January 1, 1968
8. Chaim Bar-Lew :
January 1, 1968 -
January 1, 1972
9. David Elazar :
January 1, 1972 -
April 14, 1974
10. Mordechai Gur :
April 14, 1974 -
April 1, 1978
11. Rafael Eitan :
April 1, 1978 -
April 19, 1983
12. Levi Mosque :
April 19, 1983 -
April 19, 1987
13. Dan Schomron :
April 19, 1987 -
April 1, 1991
14. Ehud Barak :
April 1, 1991 -
January 1, 1995
15. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak :
January 1, 1995 -
July 9, 1998
16. Shaul Mofas :
July 9, 1998 -
July 9, 2002
17. Jaalon Mosque :
July 9, 2002 -
June 1, 2005
18th Dan Chalutz :
June 1st, 2005 -
January 17th, 2007
Kaplinski Mosque :
January 17, 2007 -
February 14, 2007 (provisional)
19. Gabi Aschkenasi :
February 14, 2007 -
February 13, 2011
20. Benny Gantz :
February 13, 2011 -
February 16, 2015
21. Gadi Eizenkot :
February 16, 2015 -
January 15, 2019
22. Aviv Kochavi :
January 15, 2019 -
Composition of the General Staff
The general staff consists of the following posts (2019):
|Post||Rank and name|
|Chief of the General Staff||Rav-Aluf Aviv Kochavi|
|Deputy Chief of the General Staff||Aluf Eyal Zamir|
|Commanding general of the army||Aluf Kobi Barak|
|Director of the Technology and Logistics Department||Aluminum ...|
|Director of the Aman Military Intelligence Service||Aluf Tamir Hayman|
|Director of Human Resources||Aluminum ...|
|Director of the Department of Operations||Aluminum ...|
|Director of the planning and strategy department||Aluminum ...|
|Commander of the Israeli Air Force||Aluf Amikam Nurkin|
|Commander of the Israeli Navy||Aluf Eli Scharvit|
|Commanding General Central Command||Aluf Nadav Padan|
|Commanding General North Command||Aluf Yoel Strick|
|Commanding General South Command||Aluf Herzi Halevi|
|Commanding General Home Front Command||Aluf Tamir Yadai|
|Commander of the military colleges and senior field commander||Aluminum ...|
|Coordinator of government activities in the Israeli occupied territories||Aluminum ...|
|President of the Military Court of Appeal||Aluminum ...|
|Director of the C4I and Senior Field Commander||Aluminum ...|
|Press officer||Tat-Aluf Ronen Manelis|
|Director of the Weapon Systems Development Department||Aluminum ...|
|Head of Accounting||Aluminum ...|
|Military attorney general||Aluminum ...|
|Financial advisor to the Chief of Staff||Aluminum ...|
|Commanding general of the General Staff Corps and commander of training and further education for staff officers||Aluminum ...|
The military command is divided into four main commands, which are structured both regionally and functionally:
Israel does not provide any official information on troop strength either. According to The Military Balance 2005-2006 , the troop strength in 2004 was 168,000 soldiers (107,500 of them conscripts), the number of reservists was 408,000 (380,000 in the army, 3,500 in the navy, 25,000 in the air force).
Thanks to the American military aid amounting to around two billion dollars annually, the Israeli air force has developed into one of the most powerful and modern air forces in the region.
The Directorate of the Aman Military Intelligence Service (אגף מודיעין) reports, among other things, to unit 8200 . This is suspected of being able to wage war in cyberspace .
- C4I-Directorate ( Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence - command, control, communications, computer and intelligence services)
- C4I Corps
- Technology and logistics department
- Logistics Corps (replenishment and repair)
- Ordonnance Corps (witness office)
- Medical Corps
- HR department
- Military courts and military lawyers
- Military schools and military academy
The special units of the Israeli army are shaped by the Special Night Squads founded by the British officer Orde Wingate , which was a Jewish special unit for reconnaissance and covert warfare in Arab regions from 1936 to 1938. The prototype of all subsequent units was the unit 101 , which was set up in August 1953 and which was integrated into the 890 paratrooper battalion in January 1954.
Existing special forces are:
- Sajeret Matkal , the scouts of the general staff (army, Aman military intelligence service)
- Command Brigade Os, founded in 2015, comprises the units:
- Jechidat Duvdevan (army, anti-terrorist unit)
- Egos (anti-guerrilla unit),
- Rimon (desert battle)
- Maglan (remote reconnaissance and commando operations)
- Meitar (Army, artillery unit for guided missiles)
- Sajeret Tzanchanim (Army, parachute scouts )
- Jahalom (former Sajeret Yael; army, pioneers)
- Schajetet 13 (Navy), founded in 1949
- Jechidat Schaldag (Air Force), founded in 1976
Other security guards
- Aman (military intelligence)
In contrast to many other states, Israel uses the same ranks for all branches of the armed forces. Corresponding NATO rank codes are given for comparison . The rank badges in the form shown were introduced in 2002. In the navy, the badges of rank are kept in the colors customary for naval forces, for example gold on dark blue for the large uniform.
Mishne אלוף משנה
Sera רב סרן
רב נגד משנה
רב סמל בכיר
רב סמל מתקדם
רב סמל ראשון
- Formally, the military rank structure of Israel does not have a rank of general (OF-9), but since the chief of staff is the only one who holds the rank of lieutenant general (Rav-Aluf) and is commander of the armed forces, his rank is at least internationally with that of a general due to his service position ( OF-9) comparable.
- The leaf-shaped symbol on the shoulder boards of senior officers is colloquially known as falafel by the crews .
- For some time now, the first promotion in the team career has been straight to Rav-Turaʾi, the rank of Turaʾi Rishon is no longer awarded.
- Air Force : gray
- Golani Brigade : brown
- Paratrooper Brigade and Special Forces: red
- Nachal Brigade : light green
- Givʿati Brigade : purple
- Kfir Brigade : camouflage pattern
- Armored troop: black
- Artillery: turquoise
- Pioneers: gray
- Aman : green
- Military Police : cobalt blue
- Border police: dark green
- Home Front Command : orange
- General military service: khaki
- Navy : navy blue
The first weapons purchases were made in Czechoslovakia in 1948 . They included assault rifles and machine guns as well as 25 Avia S-199 fighter planes, which contained numerous parts of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 . At the time, other weapons came from Great Britain and France, which became Israel's most important arms supplier in the 1950s.
Equipped with the French CN-75-50 75mm cannon of the AMX-13 , an adapted turret and a more powerful diesel engine instead of the original gasoline engine, the M4 Sherman , a model from World War II, was developed from 1955 to the M-50 Isherman. The first two dozen of the M-50s were already in service during the Suez crisis of 1956. At the beginning of the 1960s, almost 300 M-50s made up the bulk of the Israeli tank units. Another 180 Sherman tanks were further developed with a shortened French CN-105-57 105mm L / 44 cannon of the AMX-30 to the M-51 Super Sherman, which were used with success in the Six Day War of 1967.
French President Charles de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel on June 2, 1967, just before the outbreak of the Six Day War . After the Six Day War which supplied Soviet Union , the Egyptian Armed Forces and Syria with weapons, while the United States were the most important arms supplier of Israel.
Much of the Israeli army equipment today is American-made; but also from other NATO countries including Germany, and weapons are also imported from Russia and India . The state armaments companies Israel Military Industries and Israel Aerospace Industries also carry out their own further and new developments, for example with air-to-air missiles or the Merkava tank.
The numbers of Israeli equipment are 1,230 aircraft, 14,200 battle tanks and armored vehicles, 2,783 artillery pieces, 3,153 ballistic missiles and 18 sea units.
In the past this has led to diplomatic entanglements with the USA. So Israel developed with India early 2000s, the Barak air defense system , which to date each NATO - air defense is superior, and put his own extensive disposal of American schemes. There was also a conflict in 2004 in which Israel resold to China a further development of US weapon systems that had been supplied to the People's Republic in the 1990s without - as agreed - obtaining US approval.
Israel is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . It is widely believed to have nuclear weapons.
Today it is believed that Israel has around 200 nuclear warheads . The Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu published numerous insights into the Israeli nuclear weapons program, for which he was charged and convicted. In the 1970s there was a secret joint nuclear weapons research with South Africa .
The official policy of the government is not to comment on this question, that is, neither admit nor deny ownership. An interview in December 2006, in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert named Israel as well as France, the USA and Russia in a list of nuclear powers, was viewed by the international press as an indirect admission of Israeli nuclear weapons possession and at the same time as a threat and a reply to Iran .
The military experts assume that Israel has both bomb and missile warheads. Of particular interest are the possible nuclear weapon carriers on board the six Dolphin-class submarines built in Germany , which can fire both the Israeli cruise missile Popeye Turbo and AGM-84 Harpoon missiles and medium-range missiles of Russian design.
Chemical and biological weapons
Israel has not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israel has not ratified the Bioweapons Convention either. The Israel Institute for Biological Research , founded in 1952, serves as the research facility in the biological and chemical field . It emerged from the "Hemed Beit" unit formed in 1948 for biological warfare based in Jaffa.
When the cargo flight El-Al-Flug 1862 crashed in Amsterdam on October 4, 1992, there were also 240 kilograms of the chemical dimethylmethylphosphonate for the Israel Institute for Biological Research on board, which can be used, among other things, as a raw material for the neurotoxin sarin .
Bill Richardson , Secretary of State for the US Department of Defense under Reagan and Bush, stated in 1998 that he had no doubts about Israeli developments in chemical and biological weapons: “I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time . (...) There's no doubt they've had stuff for years, but getting anybody to say anything publicly about it is going to be pretty hard. "
Scientists at the Swedish Defense Research Agency concluded in December 2005 that it was not possible to say whether the chemical and biological weapons program capacities developed in the past are still active. "Israel has developed offensive chemical and biological warfare (CBW) capabilities in the past, but it has not been possible to conclude if these offensive programs still remain active."
- IMI Galatz
- TCI M89
- IMI SR-99
- Barrett M82A1
- Ruger 10/22
- Mauser 66
- Mauser 86
- modified Remington 700
Light machine guns
Recruitment and training
In Israel, two years of military service are required for women and 30 months for men . All non-Jewish, pregnant or married women, Charedic (“ultra-orthodox”) yeshiva students (as of 2011) and Israeli Arabs are exempt from military service, although they are free to serve in the army. Legally, only women are allowed not to do military service for reasons of conscience (since in the opinion of many Orthodox Jews only the man is obliged to defend Israel) and to do a civilian alternative service ( sherut leumi ) of one or two years. Combined programs called Hesder have been set up for Jews who want to combine religious studies in an appropriate study facility (yeshiva) with military service . The minorities of the Circassians , Druze , Samaritans and the Arab Negev Beduins also serve in the army. After the founding of the state, the political leaders of the Druze decided to forego the privilege of exemption from military service and to contribute to the defense of Israel. Even without legal obligation, it has become a tradition for many Bedouin tribes to serve in the IDF. Because of their nomadic origin, they are valued primarily as enlighteners and persecutors.
For men, denial of military service is a lengthy procedure with several hearings, at the end of which the conscientious objector has to answer to a committee of conscience . This may be followed by court proceedings (comparable to total refusal in Germany), at the end of which the refuser is almost always exempt from military service, but can possibly be punished with a prison sentence of up to three years. As an alternative to refusal within the armed forces, posts outside of the combat units are generally accepted, for example when giving civil defense lessons in schools.
In contrast to women who do alternative service, men who do not fulfill their military service are often socially ostracized to this day, since in Israel it is usually taken for granted that a man should do military service. Refusal can also lead to social disadvantage. The same applies to being withdrawn for the use of illegal drugs, including “ soft drugs ”. In recent times, however, refusal has become increasingly socially accepted (also among men).
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the exemption of ultra-Orthodox Talmud students from military service was unconstitutional. In 2014 a law was passed that limited the scope of exemptions and postponements in military service. As a result, the proportion of ultra-Orthodox Jews doing military service rose sharply. In the early years of Israel, around 400 Charedi Jews were exempted from conscription. For 2013, the number was estimated at 60,000 to 70,000. In 2017 there were only 2,848 exemptions and 27,440 postponements.
Conscription is followed by one month of reserve service ( miluim ) per year; for men up to the age of 42 (or 51 for officers) and for women up to the age of 24. Not all women and men are drafted into reserve services every year, but a very large proportion are. This usually happens in the same units; bringing together comrades who are already known to one another from active service serves to increase the morale of the troops.
Reserve service has traditionally been seen as a very important part of Israel's defense policy, as suggested by a quotation from a chief of staff of the "soldier with eleven months of vacation". This is due to the very small population of Israel in regional comparison.
Because of the country's small west-east expansion, the speed of mobilization of the largest possible reservist contingents is of great importance. An association of any size must therefore be fully equipped and organized in a maximum of 48 hours and ready for use on any front section. In fact, most units achieve this goal in 24 hours. Air force units in particular, which consist of reservists, are ready for action within 12 hours.
Attitudes towards those who do not do military service have eased slightly since the 1980s, as Israel's existence has since been considered secure. According to War Resisters International , men over 35 are often no longer drafted into reserve service, and men aged 41 or 45 are usually discharged from service. Women are generally not called up for reserve duty at all.
Since such a reserve service mode, despite all predictability, represents a far-reaching interference in the lifestyle of the individual and his environment, various Israeli bodies are concerned with ways of better integrating the reserve service into the lifestyle. No Israeli student falls behind in their studies when drafted. The Institute of National Insurance regulates the salary of reservists in such a way that both employers and employees are compensated for loss of earnings or profit. The self-employed are also reimbursed for loss of earnings up to a certain upper limit.
The Israel Defense Forces are a classic conscript army. Nevertheless, one can also undertake there beyond basic military service. For Jewish non-Israelis between the ages of 18 and 23, there is also the option of voluntarily going to the so-called Machal units of the armed forces for 14.5 months . Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers from abroad can also serve without a weapon for a short time through the Sar-El program. Numerous reservists also voluntarily do reserve service beyond the age limit for mandatory reserve service.
The Equality in Uniform initiative enables people with health restrictions, such as Asperger's Syndrome, Trisomy 21, to rely on a wheelchair or who are deaf and for this reason cannot do regular service, to volunteer in the army .
Since the founding of Israel, Israeli women have also been subject to general conscription. However, around a third of women are exempted from service, mostly for religious reasons.
During the War of Independence, many women took active part in fighting because of the lack of personnel, but later they were denied service in combat units. Instead, they served in a variety of technical and administrative support posts.
In 1994, Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, told the Supreme Court of a landmark decision that the Israeli Air Force should open its pilot training to women. During the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign, women had already flown transport machines, but the Air Force later closed its ranks for women. Alice Miller then failed the recruitment test, but numerous uses were opened to women because of her initiative. The first female fighter pilot received her pilot's badge in 2001. As of 2005, 83 percent of all military posts have been open to women, including service in the artillery and on warships (with the exception of submarines). Around 450 women are currently serving in combat units in the Israeli security forces, most of them in the border police. However, the use in combat units for women is voluntary.
In 2002, 33 percent of the two lieutenant ranks and 21 percent of captains and majors, but only 3 percent of senior officers were women. With a controversially discussed decision, the women's corps command was dissolved in 2004 on the grounds that it was a contradiction and an obstacle to the full integration of women as normal soldiers without special status in the armed forces. However, at the insistence of feminists , the chief of staff retained the post of adviser on women's affairs.
The service in the armed forces has a great influence as a contact exchange as well as an initiation rite . However, with very few exceptions, the higher officer ranks are in fact reserved for men, who also have easier access to civil networks and careers. The gender-specific distribution of roles in Israel is therefore still more traditional than in Western Europe, for example.
Homosexuals were never excluded from military service in principle. In the first few years, however, there were restrictions for certain uses due to assumed safety risks.
In 1993 - with the support of Prime Minister Rabin - homosexuals were admitted to service in all units of the Israel Defense Forces through the amendments to military regulation K-31-11-01. In August 2013, the first trans woman was drafted into the Israeli military. An increasing number of soldiers profess their sexual orientation and reprisals are low, so that the Palm Center in California found no overall decline in combat strength in a study.
The 2002 film Yossi & Jagger takes up this theme . The sequel film Yossi (2012) (with the same actor) ten years later reflects the ongoing liberalization in dealing with sexual minorities in the Israeli army.
After a basic training that is tough by international standards, soldiers are given more freedom than in other armies. There is a suit order, but it does not always have to be adhered to. For example, wearing private shoes on duty is permitted as long as it is black. Military greetings are rather uncommon, superiors go to watch, many of the officers are conscripts and receive only slightly higher pay than the men. However, there is a strict alcohol ban on all military facilities.
It is a principle of the army that soldiers are brought home from action under all circumstances - dead or alive. This is an important moral factor for the soldiers. Large-scale campaigns and prisoner exchanges were carried out for the retrieval of captured or kidnapped soldiers. Even for the remains of fallen soldiers, prisoners are released. Including Gilad Schalit , a total of 16 Israeli soldiers had been exchanged for 13,509 Arab prisoners by October 2011.
Table of missing and kidnapped soldiers:
|Ron Arad||October 16, 1986||His plane crashes near Sidon, southern Lebanon|
|Adi Avitan||October 7, 2000||kidnapped near the Shebaa farms||Declared dead at the beginning of November 2001 on the basis of intelligence from the secret service. On January 30, 2004 the three bodies were handed over in exchange for 436 prisoners.|
|Benjamin Avraham||October 7, 2000||kidnapped near the Shebaa farms||Declared dead at the beginning of November 2001 on the basis of intelligence from the secret service. On January 30, 2004 the three bodies were handed over in exchange for 436 prisoners.|
|Sacharia Baumel||June 11, 1982||Tank battle by Sultan Yacoub El Thata , southern Lebanon||On April 3, 2019, it was announced that the remains had been brought from Syria to Israel via Russia in March 2019. His body was in the Al-Yarmuk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. In compensation, a total of four Syrians were released from an Israeli prison and deported to Syria.||Last seen alive on a "victory parade" of a PLO unit. In December 1993, PLO chief Yasser Arafat presented half of the identification tag to Israeli diplomats.|
|Zvi Feldmann||June 11, 1982||Tank battle by Sultan Yacoub El Thata , southern Lebanon||Last seen alive on a "victory parade" of a PLO unit.|
|Ehud Goldwasser||July 12, 2006||Hezbollah kidnapping on the Lebanon border||On July 16, 2008, his remains came to Israel in exchange for four Lebanese prisoners of war and the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar .|
|Guy Hever||17th August 1997||Disappeared on the Golan||Suspected in a Syrian prison|
|Yehuda Katz||June 11, 1982||Tank battle by Sultan Yacoub El Thata , southern Lebanon||Last seen alive on a "victory parade" of a PLO unit.|
|Eldad Regev||July 12, 2006||Hezbollah kidnapping on the Lebanon border||On July 16, 2008, his remains came to Israel in exchange for four Lebanese prisoners of war and the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar .|
|Omar Sawayed||October 7, 2000||kidnapped near the Shebaa farms||Declared dead at the beginning of November 2001 on the basis of intelligence from the secret service. On January 30, 2004 the three bodies were handed over in exchange for 436 prisoners.||Arab Bedouin|
|Gilad Shalit||June 25, 2006||Kidnapped on the border with the Gaza Strip||Release on October 18, 2011 in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners|
With the " Remembrance Day for the Fallen of the Campaigns of Israel and the Victims of the Acts of Hate " Jam HaSikaron a separate national holiday was established. It is one day before Israel's Independence Day . From the time the state was established to the 2002 public holiday, 21,182 Israelis have died.
The Zahal is known as the "army of the people" and "school of the nation". This appreciation results on the one hand from the fact that members of almost every Israeli family - with the exception of a part of the Arab and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population group - know the army service from personal experience and have friends or relatives who died or were wounded in one of the Middle East wars. The army plays an important role in the civic and patriotic education of the young generation, in the “amalgamation” of different ethnic groups and in the linguistic and social integration of new immigrants. It is not uncommon for school or vocational qualifications to be obtained during the service. Many marriages and business relationships are also based on contacts made during military service.
After the Gölcük earthquake in 1999 , the Israeli government sent 250 soldiers, dogs and rescue equipment to the crisis area. The Israeli army provided humanitarian aid several times in various crisis regions around the world. For example, after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, rescue units and medical units were sent to Haiti from the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces.
In the course of the Syrian civil war , the Israeli armed forces provided humanitarian aid on several occasions. Among other things, they recovered wounded FSA fighters on the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan near Majdal Schams in February 2013 . They received emergency care and placed in the Zefat / Safed hospital in the western Galilee . As a result, a field hospital was set up in the immediate vicinity of the border to care for the Syrian wounded.
After the earthquake in Nepal , a 260-strong relief delegation was sent to take care of the injured.
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- The minorities are exempted, except the Druze. The Druze leaders decided, early on, to throw in the lot of their community with the nascent Jewish state and, as a token of loyalty, voluntarily waived the exemption to which they were entitled. Some Bedouin tribes have a tradition of voluntary service, primarily as trackers, an art in which they have excelled for generations. Overview by Dr. Netanel Lorch at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Accessed July 16, 2007.
- see also  In the dispute over military service for Orthodox Jews, the Kadima party leaves the ruling coalition. But Netanyahu can continue to rule - for the time being (July 2012);  Israel plans conscription for ultra-Orthodox.
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- Israeli Foreign Ministry: SPOTLIGHT ON ISRAEL Reserve duty causes a great deal of hardship, particularly at the stage when young people set out to establish themselves. There are interruptions of production schedules, of university studies, of the normal flow of economic activity. In order to minimize the impact, a series of mixed civilian-military committees was set up to consider requests for deferment: certain industries or services have been declared essential and their personnel are exempted from reserve duty; for students there are deferred examinations and no student will miss a year on account of reserve service. Remuneration of reserves is arranged through the Institute of National Insurance. Workers continue to draw regular pay and the employer is compensated by the Institute. Self-employed persons are compensated up to a specified ceiling.
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- cf. The War for Israel's Survival - alternet.org