IDF The Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was officially established on May 31, 1948, shortly after the founding of the State of Israel.
The IDF incorporated pre-state Jewish paramilitary organizations, including the Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and Lehi.
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”.
National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although Arab (but not Druze) citizens are exempted if they ask for and other exceptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds.
Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two.
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.
The document defines three core values for all IDF soldiers to follow, Defense of the State, its Citizens and its Residents, Love of the Homeland and Loyalty to the Country and Human Dignity.
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.
The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel, many of them made specifically to match the IDF's needs, such as the Merkava main battle tank, high tech weapons systems and the Iron Dome.
Since 1967, the IDF has had close military relations with the United States, including in development cooperation.
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 (Rav Aluf). He reports directly to the Defense Minister and indirectly to the Prime Minister of Israel 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.