Israel Defense Forces

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; Hebrew: צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל Tsva ha-Hagana le-Yisra'el, lit.'The Army of Defense for Israel'), commonly referred to by the Hebrew-language acronym Tzahal (צה״ל), are the combined military forces of the State of Israel, consisting of three branches: the Israeli Ground Forces, the Israeli Air Force and the Israeli Navy.[7] It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel. The IDF is headed by the Chief of General Staff, who is subordinate to the Israeli Defense Minister.

Israel Defense Forces
צבא ההגנה לישראל
Flag of the IDF
Founded26 May 1948; 73 years ago (1948-05-26)
Service branches Israeli Ground Forces
 Israeli Air Force
 Israeli Navy
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
Defense Minister Benny Gantz
Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi
Military age17
Available for
military service
1,554,186 males, age 17–49 (2016 est.),
1,514,063 females, age 17–49 (2016 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,499,998 males, age 17–49 (2016 est.),
1,392,319 females, age 17–49 (2016 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
60,000 males (2016 est.),
60,000 females (2016 est.)
Active personnel169,500, including 102,500 conscripts[1] (ranked 29th)
Reserve personnel465,000[1]
BudgetUS$20.5 billion (2019)[2] (ranked 15th)
Percent of GDP5.3% (2019)[2]
Domestic suppliersIsrael Aerospace Industries
Israel Military Industries
Israel Weapon Industries
Elbit Systems
Israel Shipyards
Foreign suppliers Czechoslovakia (1948)[3]
 France (1955–1966)[4]
 United States (1968–present)[5]
 Germany (1998–present)[6]
Related articles
History1948 Arab–Israeli War (1948–1949)
Reprisal operations (1951–1956)
Sinai War (1956)
Six-Day War (1967)
War of Attrition (1967–1970)
Yom Kippur War (1973)
Operation Litani (1978)
First Lebanon War (1982–1985)
South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
First Intifada (1987–1993)
Second Intifada (2000–2005)
Second Lebanon War (2006)
Operation Cast Lead (2008–2009)
Pillar of Defense (2012)
Protective Edge (2014)
Guardian of the Walls (2021)
RanksIsrael Defense Forces ranks

An order from David Ben-Gurion on 26 May 1948 officially set up the IDF as a conscript army formed from the ranks of the Haganah, Irgun and Lehi militant groups. The IDF has participated in all of the armed conflicts involving Israel since its independence. According to the think-tank organization, the number of wars and border conflicts in which the IDF has been involved in throughout its short history makes it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world.[8] While it originally operated on three fronts—against Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan and Iraq in the east, and Egypt in the south—the IDF has shifted its focus primarily to southern Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories since the signings of the 1979 Egypt–Israel peace treaty and the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, with some incidents occurring across its border with Syria due to instability caused by the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

The IDF is unique amongst the militaries of the world due to its regulated conscription of women since its formation. It is one of the most prominent institutions in Israeli society due to its influence on the country's economy, culture and political scene. The IDF uses several technologies developed within Israel, with many of them made specifically to cater to the IDF's needs in its operational environment in the Levant, such as the Merkava main battle tank, the Achzarit armored personnel carrier, the Iron Dome air defense system, the Trophy active protection system for vehicles, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles. The Uzi submachine gun is an Israeli invention and was used by the IDF until December 2003, ending a service that began in 1954. Since 1967, the IDF has had close military relations with the United States,[9] including in development cooperation, such as on the F-15I jet, the THEL laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

The IDF is believed to have had an operational nuclear weapons capability since 1967, possibly possessing between 80 and 400 nuclear warheads,[10] with delivery systems forming a nuclear triad of plane launched-missiles, Jericho III intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched cruise missiles.