Israel/Defense Forces

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Group.png Israel Defence Forces  
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Formation26 May 1948
LeaderIsrael/Defense Forces/Chief of Staff
Subgroups• Sayeret Matkal
• Unit 8200
Founder ofFront for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners
SubpageIsrael/Defense Forces/Chief of Staff
Israel/Defense Forces/Deputy Chief of Staff
Israel/Defense Forces/T-shirt affair
Big force for a small country

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF), commonly known by the Hebrew Tzahal, are the military forces of Israel. The IDF consist of the ground forces, air force and navy, which are the military wing of the Israeli security forces and have no civilian jurisdiction within Israel.

The IDF are headed by Chief of General Staff (Ramatkal), who is subordinate to the Defence Minister of Israel. Lieutenant-General (Rav Aluf) Herzi Halevi has been Ramatkal since 16 January 2023.[1]

Referred to as Israeli Occupation Forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the IDF were conducting a genocide in Gaza killing more than 20,000 civilians and injuring over 60,000, and were storming towns in the West Bank killing more than 314 Palestinians since the Gaza War (2023–24) began on 7 October 2023.[2]


75 years of fighting for its existence: A timeline of Israel’s wars - I24 News

On 26 May 1948, Prime Minister and Defence Minister David Ben-Gurion officially set up the Israel Defence Forces as a conscript army formed out of the paramilitary group Haganah and incorporating the militant groups Irgun and Lehi.

Military operations

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, 1956 Sinai War, 1964–1967 War over Water, 1967 Six-Day War, 1967–1970 War of Attrition, 1968 Battle of Karameh, 1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon (Operation Spring of Youth), 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1976 Operation Entebbe, 1978 Operation Litani, 1982 Lebanon War, 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, 1987–1993 First Intifada, 2000–2005 Second Intifada, 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, 2006 Lebanon War, 2008-2009 Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead), 2012 Operation Pillar of Defence, and 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The number of wars and border conflicts in which the IDF has been involved in its short history makes it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world.[3][4] While originally the IDF operated on three fronts—against Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan and Iraq in the east, and Egypt in the south—after the 1979 Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, it has concentrated its activities in southern Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, including the First and the Second Intifada.


The Israel Defence Forces differs from most armed forces in its structure, which emphasises close relations between the army, navy, and air force. Israel is one of only a few nations that conscript women or deploy them in combat roles, although in practice, women can avoid conscription through a religious exemption and over a third of Israeli women do so.[5] In 2000, the Equality amendment to the Military Service law stated that the right of women in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.[6] Although Israel has a majority of Jewish soldiers, large numbers of Israeli Druze and Circassian men are subject to mandatory conscription to the IDF just like Israeli Jews.[7]

Mahal volunteers

Overseas residents can serve in the IDF through the Mahal volunteer program which is for young non-Israelis of Jewish background who are legal residents in Israel (and descendants of a Jewish grandparent) and overseas Israelis who are younger than 24 (men), 21 (women), 36 (physicians). The program consists typically of 18 months of IDF service (21 months, if IDF-Hebrew study program, or ulpan, is necessary) including extended training for those joining combat units or 1 month of non-combat training. All overseas volunteers serve in regular Israeli military units.

In March 2017, former Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Baroness Warsi said people should only be legally allowed to fight for the state they are a citizen of, and British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army should be prosecuted like others who fight for foreign forces.[8] However, it was reported that Warsi’s demand on IDF volunteers would not gain traction with Israel-supporting Tories, many of whom are members of Conservative Friends of Israel.[9]

Sar-El volunteers

Sar-El (Service for Israel[10]), is a non-profit service organisation, subordinate and under the direction of the Israeli Logistics Corps. Interestingly, Sar-El also accepts non-Jewish supporters of Israel from the age of 17 upwards. [11]

The program usually consists of three weeks of volunteer service on different rear army or air force bases, doing non-combative work. The association was founded in spring 1983 during the Lebanese War. Aharon Davidi, an Israeli general, was invited to be the first director of the organisation. Most of the volunteers arrived in Israel as part of the organisation from the United States and from France.[12] Volunteers are employed in a few weeks the IDF workshops – usually related jobs in maintenance and logistics. Many volunteers come from the US organised by a US-based non-profit organisation Volunteers for Israel. Sar-El had 881 volunteers from the United States in 2015, although volunteers have come from over 60 countries. [13]

Nuclear weapons

Israel is known to have developed nuclear weapons but maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity and does not officially acknowledge its nuclear weapons programme.[14] It is thought Israel possesses between one hundred and four hundred nuclear warheads.[15] It is believed that Jericho intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of delivering nuclear warheads with a superior degree of accuracy and a range of 11,500 km.[16] Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter-bomber aircraft also have been cited as possible nuclear delivery systems.[17][18][19] The US Air Force F-15 Eagle has tactical nuclear weapon capability.[20] It has been asserted that Dolphin submarines have been adapted to carry Popeye Turbo submarine-launched cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, so as to give Israel a second strike capacity.[21][22]

Israel also has a large biological weapons program.

Full article: Rated 5/5 Israel/Biological weapons

US—Israel military relations

In 1983, the United States and Israel established a Joint Political Military Group, which convenes twice a year. Both the US and Israel participate in joint military planning and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development. Additionally the US military maintains two classified, pre-positioned War Reserve Stocks in Israel valued at $493 million.[23] Israel has the official distinction of being an American major non-NATO ally. 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 US foreign assistance, receiving $2.55 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants from the US Department of Defense in 2009. All but 26% of this military aid is for the purchase of military hardware from American companies only.[24]

The United States has an anti-missile system base in the Negev region of Southern Israel, which is manned by 120 US Army personnel. In October 2012, United States and Israel began their biggest joint air and missile defence exercise, known as Austere Challenge 12, involving around 3,500 US troops in the region along with 1,000 IDF personnel.[25] Germany and Britain also participated.[26]

Air Force desertion=

Israeli fighter pilots refuse to train in protest of judicial reforms - In an unprecedented protest, Israeli fighter pilots say they will not attend a day of training.

Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon and Brig. Gen. Relik Shafir, a former air force commander, talks about the deep level of mistrust by the defence establishment in Israel's current political leaders.

In 2023 dozens of Israeli air force reservists said they’ll refuse to show up for duty if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government moves ahead with a contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary.[27] Israeli Army suspended its navy commander 2 months before the attack.[28] A protest signed by thousands of reservists over the last seven months up to the attack, had mostly remained threats. Up to the attack, 161 critical air force personnel announced they will decline to serve, raising concerns about the military’s readiness in the face of similar refusals at a time of heightened violence and tensions on several fronts. Hundreds of reservists from various units joined a rally in Tel Aviv in august 2023, declaring they would not report for duty anymore.[29]


Events carried out

2018 Gaza MassacreGaza
A massacre of at least 135 unarmed protestors including many women and children, and the wounding of many thousands more by Israeli IDF sniper teams, during the Palestinian 'Great March of Return' and the weeks following its end on 15 May 2018
2023-2024 Israel-Hamas WarGaza
Indian Ocean
Golan Heights
Hamas attack on dozens of illegal Israeli settlements in Southern Israel provoking mass retaliatory killings by Israel. Corporate media call it the Israeli "9-11", while critics of Israel refer to "10-7" as a staged, military operation in order to manufacture consent for a disproportionate response.
2023-2024 Israel-Hamas War/Israeli invasion of GazaGazaAfter October 7, Israel invaded Gaza with widespread international support. The IDF went on a widely reported revenge killing spree. Even by Israel's own account, they killed 19,500 Palestinian civilians after half a year of bombing hospitals, schools and civilian towers, utilising numerous condemned tactics.
Gaza War 2014


Related Quotations

2023-2024 Israel-Hamas War“There had already been a significant increase in violence by Israeli settlers this year, even before the Hamas attack, according to UN data, with more than 100 incidents reported each month and about 400 people driven from their land between January and August.

Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem told the BBC that since the attack, it had documented "a concerted and organised effort by settlers to use the fact that the entire international and local attention is focused on Gaza and the north of Israel to try to seize land in the West Bank". Partial data compiled by B'Tselem, covering the first six days after the Hamas attack, recorded at least 46 separate incidents in which it said settlers threatened, physically attacked or damaged the property of Palestinians in the West Bank.

"A lot of shepherding families and communities have fled because they were threatened in the past week by settlers," said Roy Yellin, a spokesman for B'Tselem. "Settlers have been giving residents a deadline to leave and telling them if they don't they will be harmed. And some villages have been totally emptied out."”
Joel Gunter
2023-2024 Israel-Hamas War/October 7“Under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of war intentions on the part of Hamas. On the contrary, the assessment of the entire security echelon, including the head of military intelligence and the head of Shin Bet, was that Hamas was deterred and was seeking an arrangement".”Benjamin NetanyahuOctober 2023
AIJAC/Rambam Programs/2015“Our exchange on strategic issues soon demonstrated a whole range of areas where our military forces [ IDF and the Australian military ] could learn from one another. These ranged from defence industry co-operation (our army has purchased an Israeli battle management system) to counter-insurgency, urban intelligence gathering, coalition warfighting, countering improvised explosive devices, military education, the use of reservists, airpower developments (both countries are acquiring F-35 joint strike fighters), military procurement processes and maritime security (Israel is developing offshore gas fields). Issues related to counter-terrorism and social resilience were highlighted as common interests of both states.”Anthony Bergin2015
George Carlin“Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It's as simple as that. The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people, or they depopulate the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos, Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime, and firefighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?”George Carlin
Miko Peled“[...] and then you've got the Israeli army which I like to refer to as one of the most, one of the best-trained, best-equipped, best fed, terrorist organizations in the world. And yes they have generals and have nice uniforms, but their entire, their entire purpose is terrorism. And just as one example, I'll give you one example, almost exactly four years ago as Israel began its attack on Gaza, September the 27th 2008 at 11:25 in the morning. What I refer to as the most shameful day in the Jewish history. The most shameful day in the history of the Jewish people. Israel began carpet bombing Gaza and on the first day of it what was to be a 21 day attack, they dropped 100 tons of bombs. OK, a one-ton bomb will decimate an entire city block. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world. 800,000 children live in Gaza- 11:25 is exactly the time when the morning school shift and the afternoon school shift change, so all the kids are in the streets, all the children on the streets. That was the moment decided by the decision makers in Israel to begin the attack. This was the first day, of a 21 day slaughter that had absolutely no justification, if that's not terrorism I don't know what is [...]”Miko Peled2012
Ronald Plasterk“All the more exasperating that in the reactions to Hamas's horrific pogrom, in which more Jews were murdered in one day than at any time since the Holocaust, first, it is pretended that it is indeed symmetrical, and the major media such as the NOS news even ostentatiously takes sides with Hamas and against Israel (see, for example, holding Israel directly responsible for that bomb on the hospital, without any check, and then no neat response).

You can have all sorts of objections to the Netanyahu government, and because Israel is a democracy (the only one in the Middle East) there are many people even within Israel who voice those objections. You can insist on observing borders when counterattacking. If you recognise Israel's full right to defend itself, there are always limits anyway; remember, for example, that Israel is a nuclear power. But even if you keep the balance right, it is important to have in mind why the situation between Israel and Hamas is anything but symmetrical.

There are civilian casualties on both sides. A first fundamental difference is that Hamas, as a terror organisation, is out to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible, while the Israeli army is trying to hit Hamas while inflicting as few civilian casualties as possible. You might perhaps think that they should take even more of a margin on that point, but in any case the intention is a completely different one from Hamas’.

A further difference is that Israeli soldiers may be willing to die in war, but still prefer to come home to their families in one piece. Hamas has a death culture, with the highest good being to blow yourself up, for which you are rewarded with sex with 72 young virgins (not wondering if those 72 young women feel like it).

Then taking civilians hostage as human shields, including very young children. That is a serious war crime, and one would expect that all responses would constantly insist that Hamas must first release those hostages. On top of that, Hamas is also preventing its own civilians from leaving locations where Hamas posts are located, precisely with the intention of those civilians being killed in attacks from Israel. Another criminal tactic that Israel does not use.”
Ronald Plasterk2023


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Has the Elite’s Slavish pro-Israel Agenda Finally Gone Too FarBlog post25 February 2019Craig MurrayIsraeli destruction of Palestinian olive trees in the occupied territories is almost as heinous as the continuing killing and imprisonment of Palestinian children. Every morning ask yourself this question: "How many children has the Israeli “Defence” Force killed since the MSM last reported one?"
Document:Spot-Shootarticle13 July 2010Jonathan CookOn the use of drones against Palestinians
Document:US says Israel may have breached international law with American weapons in Gazacommentary11 May 2024Jonathan Cook"If that sounds like extreme linguistic, legal and moral gymnastics in defence of continuing US complicity in genocide, it's because that is exactly what it is."
File:Attack when the world is not watching.pdfpaper1 May 2015Ruben Durante
Ekaterina Zhuravskaya
An analysis of the timing of Israeli military attacks on Gaza relative to important breaking news in the US and Europe
File:Children and Youth Soldiers Testimonies 2005 2011.pdftestimony26 August 2012IDF veterans
File:UN HRC Gaza Freedom Flotilla.pdfreport1 October 2010UN Human Rights CouncilThe report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance
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  1. "Herzi Halevi formally takes over as chief of staff, vows to keep politics out of IDF"
  2. "Israeli Occupation Forces Storm Ramallah, Kill Palestinian Youth"
  4. |
  5. Abuse of IDF Exemptions Questioned The Jewish Daily Forward, 16 Dec 2009
  8. "UK citizens who fight in Israeli army should be prosecuted, Baroness Warsi says"
  9. "Warsi’s demand on IDF volunteers won’t gain traction with Israel-supporting Tories"
  15. Brower, Kenneth S., "A Propensity for Conflict: Potential Scenarios and Outcomes of War in the Middle East," Jane's Intelligence Review, Special Report no. 14, (February 1997), 14–15. Brower notes that he is making a high estimate of the number of weapons.
  16. Missile Proliferation and Defences: Problems and Prospects. (PDF). Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  17. "F-16 Falcon". Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  18. "Israel's F-16 Warplanes Likely to Carry Nuclear Weapons: Report". (20 August 2002). Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  25. US and Israel launch joint military drill, Al Jazeera 21 October 2012