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Israel Defense Forces
Image:Idf logo4.jpg Image:Flag of Israel.svg
Military manpower
Military age18 years of age
Availability males age 15-49: 1,499,186 (2000 est.)

females age 15-49: 1,462,063 (2000 est.)

Fit for military service males age 15-49: 1,226,903 (2000 est.)

females age 15-49: 1,192,319 (2000 est.)

Reaching military age annually males: 50,348 (2000 est.)
females: 47,996 (2000 est.)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure$8.7 billion (FY99)
Percent of GDP9.4% (FY99)
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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (Hebrew: צבא הגנה לישראל Tsva Hagana LeYisrael , "[Army] Force for the Defense of Israel"), often abbreviated with the Hebrew acronym צה"ל Tsahal, alternative English spelling Tzahal, is the name of Israel's military forces, comprising the Israeli Army, the Israeli Air Force and the Israeli Navy.


[edit] History

See main article: History of the Israel Defense Forces for a detailed history of the IDF.

The Israeli Defence Force was founded May 14, 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel "to protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life" [citation needed]. The IDF succeeded the Haganah (in particular, its operational branch, the Palmach) as the permanent army of the Jewish state. It was also joined by former elements of the Jewish Brigade that fought under the British flag during World War II. After the establishment of the IDF the two Jewish underground organizations the Etzel and Lehi joined with the IDF in a loose confederation but were allowed to operate independently in some sectors until the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, after which these two organizations were disbanded, and their members integrated into the IDF. The modern IDF came into existence during the period from 1949 to 1956 by experience gained through regional conflicts with their Arab neighbours.

From 1956 to 1966, the IDF faced less conflict and used this time to purchase new equipment and change from an upstart army to a professional fighting force. As well, this period allegedly saw Israel develop their nuclear capability.

After a decade of peace, the IDF faced a series of regional wars with their neighbours.

[edit] Overview

[edit] Service and manpower

[edit] Regular service

National military service is compulsory for Jewish and Druze men, and Jewish women, over the age of 18, although exemptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds (see Profile 21). Men in the Haredi community may choose to be exempt while enrolled in Yeshivas, a practice that is a source of tension,<ref>Rosenthal 2003:51</ref> though some yeshiva programs like Hesder provide opportunities for service.

Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two and sometimes less than two. The IDF may on occasions require women who volunteer for combat positions to serve for three years because combat soldiers must undergo a lengthy period of training. Women in combat positions are also required to serve as reserve for several years after their dismissal from regular service.

[edit] Reserve service

Following regular service, men may be called for reserve service of up to one month annually, until the age of 43-45 (reservists may volunteer after this age), and may be called for active duty immediately in times of crisis. In most cases, the reserve duty is carried out in the same unit for years, in many cases the same unit as the active service and by the same people. Many soldiers who have served together in active service continue to meet in reserve duty for years after their discharge, causing reserve duty to become a strong male bonding experience in Israeli society. A well-known Israeli joke refers to civilians as soldiers on 11-month furlough.

Although still available to be called up in times of crisis, most Israeli men, and virtually all women, do not actually perform reserve service in any given year. Units do not always call up all of their reservists every year, and a variety of exemptions are available if called for regular reserve service. Virtually no exemptions exist for reservists called up in a time of crisis, but experience has shown that in such cases (most recently, Second Lebanon War in 2006) exemptions are rarely requested or exercised; units generally achieve recruitment rates above those considered fully-manned.

Recently, legislation has been proposed for reform in the reserve service, lowering the maximum service age to 40, designating it as a purely emergency force, as well as many other changes to the current structure (although the Defence Minister can suspend any portion of it at any time for security reasons). The age threshold for many reservists whose positions are not listed, though, will be fixed at 49. The legislation is set out to take effect by 13 March, 2008.

[edit] Border Guard service

Some IDF soldiers will serve their mandatory military service in the Mishmar Ha Gvool (Magav) or Israel Border Police. Once the soldiers complete their IDF combat training they undergo additional counter-terror and Border Guard training. They are then assigned to any one of the Border Guard units around the country.

The Border Guard units fight side by side with the regular IDF combat units. They also are responsible for security in heavy urban areas such as the City of Jerusalem.

Many officers in the Border Guard come from the IDF combat units. While the Border Guard does retain their own command structure, on the ground they are almost indistinguishable from the regular IDF units.

[edit] Minorities in the IDF

Druze Arabs and Circassians, like Israeli Jews, serve mandatory service in the IDF. Originally, they were taken into a special unit called "The Minorities' Unit", which still exists today, in the form of the Harev patrol battalion, but since the 1980's Druze soldiers have increasingly protested this practice, which they considered a means of segregating them and denying their access to prestigious units. The army has increasingly admitted Druze soldiers to ordinary fighting units and gave them access to higher ranks from which they had been previously excluded. In recent years, some Druze officers have reached positions in the IDF as high as Major General and many have received orders of distinction. Nevertheless, some Druze still complain of discrimination and especially of being excluded from the Air Force, although the official low security classification for Druze has been abolished for some time. The first Druze navigator passed his flying course in 2005, his name is censored due to him being a member of the airforce, and he is the grandchild of one of the defected Syrian Druze from the battle of Ramat Yohanan during the independence war, where approximately 1000 Druze soldiers and officers deserted and joined Israel.

The issue of being subject to mandatory conscription, unlike other Israeli Arab citizens, is the subject of an ongoing controversy inside the Druze community itself. Since the late 1970's the Druze Intiative Committee centered at the village of Beit Jan and linked to the Israeli Communist Party had been campaigning to abolish Druze conscription - arguing that the Druze are Arabs and Palestinians and should not be compelled to fight their brothers and sisters; that Druze conscription was instituted in 1956 following an appeal by the heads of the Druze community to then PM Ben Gurion which should not be considered binding on youths born many decades later; and that Druze get both ends of the stick - being conscripted like Jews (and in fact, having a higher percentage of combat casualties than Jews) while being in civilian life subjected to the same discrimination suffered by other Arabs in Israel.

Image:Circle-question-red.svg The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.
Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page.

Such attitudes among the Israeli Druze were increased by contacts with their co-religioinists on the Golan Heights, most of whom consider themselves Syrian patriots, do not recognise the Golan's annexation to Israel and waged a prolonged civil disobedience campaign in 1982, when the government tried to impose Israeli citizenship on them. Also, the first Lebanon War brought Israeli Druze soldiers indirect contact with their Lebanese co-religionists which had the effect of increasing disaffection - especially in 1982-83 when the Druze regarded the government as unfairly supporting Lebanese Christian militias then conducting a bloody conflict with the Lebanese Druze at the Shuf Mountains south of Beirut.

In each conscription class, dozens of Druze youths are known to either refuse to enlist or fail to show up and be declared "deserters". Druze radical activists complain that Druze conscientious objectors are consistently treated more harshly than Jewish ones and get far longer prison terms. So far, all Israeli government refused to open the policy of Druze conscription to any discussion. Regardless of the controversy on the issue of Druze recruitment, 87% of the Druze men enlist to the IDF, a ten precent higher rate than that of Jewish men.

By law, all Israeli citizens are subject to conscription and it is the Defence Minister's complete discretion to grant excemption to individual citizens or classes of citizens. A long-standing policy dating to Israel's early years extends an exemption to all other Israeli minorities (notably Israeli Arabs but also Black Hebrews and others). However, there is a long-standing governmet policy of encouraging Bedouins to volunteer and offer them various inducements, and in some impoverished Bedouin communities a military career seems one of the few means of (relative) social mobility available.

Similar to the above-mentioned Druze, Bedouin soldiers increasingly complain of being segregated in the army (escpecially in the traditonal role of trackers) and demand to be admitted to ordianry units, and volunteering to military service is an increasingly controversial subject in the beduin community - with opponents of military service pointing, for example, to cases where Bedouin soldiers returned from dangerous duty in the Occupied Territories to find their family homes in the Negev destroyed by government inspectors.

From among non-beduin Arab citizens, the number of volunteers for military service - some Christian Arabs and even a few Muslim Arabs - is minute, and the government makes no special effort to increase it. Six Israeli Arabs have received orders of distinction as a part of their military service; of them the most famous is a Bedouin officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abd El-Amin Hajer (also known as Amos Yarkoni), who received the Order of Distinction. Recently, a Bedouin officer was promoted to the rank of Colonel. [citation needed]

Until the second term of Yitzchak Rabin as Prime Minister, social benefits given to families in which at least one member (including a granfather, uncle or cousin) had served at some time in the armed forces were significantly higher than to "non-military" families, which was considered a means of blatant discrimination between Jews and Arabs. Rabin had led the abolition of the measure, in the teeth of strong opposition from the Right. At present, the only official advantage from military service is the attaining of security clearance and serving in some types of government positions (in most cases, security-related), as well as some indirect benefits. In practice, however, a large number of Israeli employers placing "wanted" ads include the requirement "after military service" even when the job is in no way security-related, which is considered as an euphemism for "no Arab need apply". The test of former military service is also frequnetly applied in addmittance to various newly-founded communities, effectively barring Arabs from living there. Also, the Israeli national airline El Al hires only pilots who had served in the Air Force, which in practice excludes Arabs from the job.

Israeli Arabs claim that this puts them at a disadvantage vs. non-Arab Israeli citizens - although in theory any Israeli Arab has the opportunity to do military service, if he or she wants to, in practice any such volunteer needs to be vetted by the Security Service, and the drafting of Muslims other than Beduins is not encouraged and is often considered a security risk. The Israeli government claims that this arrangement provides equal opportunity for the Arab population.

On the other hand, non-Arab Israelis argue that the mandatory three-year (two years for women) military service puts them at a disadvantage, as they effectively lose three years of their life through their service in the IDF, while the Arab Israelis are able to start right into their jobs after school, or study at a university. In fact, the most frequently heard argument whenever the subject of the discrimination of Arabs comes up - whether on the Knesset floor, in the media or among ordinary citizens - is that the Arabs' "non fulfilment of military duty" justifies thier exclusion from some or all the benefits of citizenship. The late former general Rafael Eitan, when he went into politics in the 1980's, proposed that the right to vote be linked to military service. The idea occasionally crops up again among right-wing groups and parties.

According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied territories, "Israeli Arabs were not required to perform mandatory military service and, in practice, only a small percentage of Israeli Arabs served in the military. Those who did not serve in the army had less access than other citizens to social and economic benefits for which military service was a prerequisite or an advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies, and employment, especially government or security-related industrial employment. Regarding the latter, for security reasons, Israeli Arabs generally were restricted from working in companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields."

In recent years, there have been several initiatives to enable Israeli Arabs to volunteer for civilian National Service instead of to the IDF, completion of which would grant the same privileges as those granted to IDF veterans. However, this plan has gained strong resistance from Arab members of the parliament, and as a result, has not been implemented yet.

Since 1993, gays have been allowed to openly serve in the military, including special units.

Image:IDF female soldiers.jpg
Female soldiers at the train station

[edit] Women in the IDF

Israel has female conscription, but about a third of female conscripts (more than double the figure for men) are exempted, mainly for religious and nuptial reasons.

Following their active service, women, like men, are in theory required to serve up to one month annually in reserve duty. However, in practice only some women in combat roles get called for active reserve duty, and only for a few years following their active service, with many exit points (e.g., pregnancy).

Apart from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when manpower shortages saw many of them taking active part in battles on the ground, women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles. During this period however, the IDF reputedly favoured female instructors for training male soldiers in certain roles, particularly tank crews. This was on the basis that female instructors of similar age to the young conscripts were more likely to receive the full attention of their students. But after a landmark 1994 High Court appeal by Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, the Air Force was instructed to open its pilots course to women (several served as transport pilots during the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and "Operation Kadesh" in 1956, but the Air Force later closed its ranks to women fliers). Miller failed the entrance exams, but since her initiative, many additional combat roles were opened. As of 2005, women are allowed to serve in 83% of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary for women.

As of 2002, 33% of lower rank Officers are women, 21% of Captains and Majors, but only 3% of the most senior ranks.

450 women currently serve in combat units of Israel's security forces, primarily in the Border Police. The first female fighter pilot received her wings in 2001. In a controversial move, the IDF abolished its "Women's Corps" command in 2004, with a view that it has become an anachronism and a stumbling block towards integration of women in the army as regular soldiers with no special status. However, after pressures from feminist lobbies, The Chief of Staff was persuaded to keep an "advisor for women's affairs".

[edit] Expenditures and alliances

During 1950-66, Israel spent an average of 9% of its GDP on defense. Defense expenditures increased dramatically after both the 1967 and 1973 wars. They reached a high of about 24% of GDP in the 1980s, but have since come back down to about 9%[1], following the signing of peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt.

In 1983, the United States and Israel established a Joint Political Military Group, which convenes twice a year. Both the U.S. and Israel participate in joint military planning and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development. Additionally the U.S. military maintains two classified, pre-positioned War Reserve Stocks in Israel valued at $493 million. [2] Israel has the official distinction of being an American Major non-NATO ally. As a result of this, America shares the vast majority of its security and military technology with Israel.

Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. In recent years, Israel has received about $1.8 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants from the Department of Defense. This amount has increased in recent years due to non-military economic aid being shifted to military aid.[3]

[edit] Weapons and equipment

Equipment Number
Main Battle Tanks 3,657
APC 10,419
Artillery Towed 5,432
Combat Air Craft 402
Helicopters 130

[edit] High command (General Staff)

For a list of individual members (2005), see Israeli General Staff

All branches of the IDF are subordinate to a single General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff (Hebrew acronym: רמטכ"ל, pronounced: Ramatkal) is the only serving officer having the rank of Lieutenant General (in Hebrew: רב אלוף, pronounced: "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. The current chief of staff is (Lieutenant) General (Rav-Aluf) Dan Halutz, who replaced Moshe Ya'alon, on June 1st, 2005.

[edit] Military structure

The IDF is comprised of the following bodies (those whose respective heads are members of the General Staff are in bold):

[edit] Arms

Image:S pikudi bahir.gif Ground Forces Command

Image:Idf air force.gif Air and Space Arm

Image:IL NavyEmblem.jpg Sea Arm

Image:Modiin.jpg Intelligence Directorate

[edit] Branches

[edit] Regional commands

[edit] Other bodies

[edit] Related bodies

The following bodies work closely with the IDF, but do not (or only partially) belong to its formal structure (those whose respective heads are members of the General Staff are in bold).

[edit] Security forces

[edit] Development

[edit] Oversight

[edit] Israeli military technology

The IDF possesses top-of-the-line weapons and computer systems; some of it American-made or indigenously modified (such as the M4A1 assault rifle, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and Apache helicopter). Israel receives more than US$2 billion per year in military aid from the United States, and much of it requires that American equipment be purchased with it. In spite of this however, Israel also has developed its own independent weapons industry. Weapons such as the Merkava battle tank, Kfir jet series, and various small arms such as the Galil assault rifle and Uzi submachine gun have all proven to be very successful.

The IDF also has several large internal research and development departments, and it purchases many technologies produced by the Israeli security industries including IAI, IMI, Elbit, El-Op, Rafael, Soltam and dozens of smaller firms. Many of these developments have been battle-tested in Israel's numerous military engagements, making the relationship mutually beneficial, the IDF getting tailor-made solutions and the industries a very high repute.

[edit] Main Israeli developments

An Israeli Merkava main battle tank.

Israel's military technology is most famous for its guns, armored fighting vehicles (tanks, tank-converted APCs, armoured bulldozers etc) and rocketry (missiles and rockets). Israel also designs and in some cases it has manufactured aircraft (Kfir, Lavi; both discontinued) and naval systems (patrol and missile ships). Much of the IDF's electronic systems (intelligence, communication, command and control, navigation etc.) are Israeli-developed, including many systems installed on foreign platforms (esp. aircraft, tanks and submarines). So are many of its precision-guided munitions.

Israel and the United States are the only countries in the world with an anti-ballistic missile defense system ("Hetz", Arrow, or Patriot (U.S.) developed with funding and technology from the United States), though an operational system is in place protecting the Moscow area. Israel has also worked with the U.S. on development of a tactical high energy laser system against medium range rockets (called Nautilus or THEL).

Israel has the independent capability of launching reconnaissance satellites into orbit (a capability which only Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the People's Republic of China, India and Japan hold). Both the satellites (Ofeq) and the launchers (Shavit) were developed by the Israeli security industries.

Israel is also said to have developed an indigenous nuclear capability, although no official details or acknowledgements have ever been publicized. On the issue of this nuclear weapons program, Israel chooses to follow a policy of deliberate ambiguity.

[edit] Specific weapon systems

[edit] Nuclear capability

See also: Israel and weapons of mass destruction

It is generally believed that Israel has nuclear weapons. The weapons are thought to have been developed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center's nuclear reactor since the 1960's. The first two nuclear bombs were probably operational before the Six-Day War and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel's first nuclear alert during that war. It is also believed that, fearing defeat in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israelis assembled thirteen twenty-kiloton nuclear bombs.

The current size and composition of Israel's nuclear stockpile is uncertain, and is the subject of various estimates and reports. FAS estimates that Israel probably has 100-200 nuclear warheads, which can be delivered by airplanes (A-4 Skyhawk or converted F-4 Phantom II), or ballistic missiles (Lance, Jericho or Jericho II missiles). The Jericho II is reported to have a range between 1,500 and 4,000 km, meaning that it can target sites as far away as central Russia, Iran and Libya.

It has also been speculated that the Israeli Navy's three Dolphin class submarines may be capable of carrying nuclear-armed specially-modified Popeye Turbo cruise missiles. These missiles are purported to have a 1,500 km range and are supposedly fired out of what are suspected to be unusually-sized additional torpedo tubes that were allegedly installed on the Dolphin submarine and are otherwise larger than what is required to accommodate any currently known western torpedo design in existence. A test of such a missile is alleged to have taken place off the coast of Sri Lanka in May 2000. Nevertheless, some military analysts have labeled such rumors to be highly unlikely and impossible given the logistics of the submarines. Furthermore, there is no factual basis for the origins of the alleged test firing.

The Israeli government has neither acknowledged nor denied that it possesses nuclear weapons, an official policy referred to as "ambiguity". However, details of Israel's nuclear program were revealed in 1986 to the British press by Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician. Following these revelations, Mordechai Vanunu was abducted by the Mossad and convicted of treason in his country. Released in 2004 under specific conditions, he lives today under surveillance in Israel.

[edit] Ranks and insignia

The Israel Defense Forces has four enlisted ranks, as well as:

  • 3 Supreme or General Officers: Rav Aluf (Ra'al), Aluf, Tat aluf (Ta'al)
  • 3 Field or Senior Officers: Aluf mishne (Alam), Sgan aluf (Sa'al), Rav seren (Rasan)
  • 3 Company Grade or Junior Officers: Seren, Segen and Segen mishne (Sagam)
  • 2 academic officers: Katsin akademai bakhir (Ka'ab), Katsin miktsoi akademai (Kama)
  • 5 non-commissioned officer ranks: Rav nagad (Ranag), Rav samal bakhír (Rasab), Rav samal mitkadem (Rasam), Rav samal rishon (Rasar), Rav samal (Rasal)

Non-officer enlisted ranks include: Samal rishon (Samar), Samal, Rav turai (Rabat), Turai

Unlike most world armies, these ranks are common for all corps in the IDF, including the air force and navy.

Enlisted personnel sew their ranks to their sleeves, while officers and NCOs wear them on their shoulders.

[edit] Code of Conduct

In 1992, the IDF drafted a Code of Conduct that is a combination of international law, Israeli law, Jewish heritage and the IDF's own traditional ethical code - Ruach Tzahal רוח צה"ל ("The Spirit of the IDF").

[edit] The Values of the IDF

Tenacity of Purpose in Performing Missions and Drive to Victory - "The IDF servicemen and women will fight and conduct themselves with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; They will persevere in their missions resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering their lives."

Responsibility - "The IDF servicemen or women will see themselves as active participants in the defense of the state, its citizens and residents. They will carry out their duties at all times with initiative, involvement and diligence with common sense and within the framework of their authority, while prepared to bear responsibility for their conduct."

Credibility - "The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks."

Personal Example - "The IDF servicemen and women will comport themselves as required of them, and will demand of themselves as they demand of others, out of recognition of their ability and responsibility within the military and without to serve as a deserving role model."

Human Life - "The IDF servicemen and women will act in a judicious and safe manner in all they do, out of recognition of the supreme value of human life. During combat they will endanger themselves and their comrades only to the extent required to carry out their mission."

Purity of Arms - "The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property."

Professionalism - "The IDF servicemen and women will acquire the professional knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks, and will implement them while striving continuously to perfect their personal and collective achievements."

Discipline - "The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders."

Comradeship - "The IDF servicemen and women will act out of fraternity and devotion to their comrades, and will always go to their assistance when they need their help or depend on them, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking their lives."

Sense of Mission - "The IDF soldiers view their service in the IDF as a mission; They will be ready to give their all in order to defend the state, its citizens and residents. This is due to the fact that they are representatives of the IDF who act on the basis and in the framework of the authority given to them in accordance with IDF orders."

[edit] Code of Conduct against terrorists

Recently, a team of professors, commanders and former judges, led by Tel Aviv University the holder of the Ethics chair, Professor Assa Kasher, developed a code of conduct which emphasizes the right behavior in low intensity warfare against terrorists, where soldiers must operate within a civilian population. Reserve units and regular units alike are taught the following eleven rules of conduct, which are an addition to the more general IDF Spirit:

  1. Military action can only be taken against military targets.
  2. The use of force must be proportional.
  3. Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF.
  4. Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked.
  5. Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners.
  6. Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested.
  7. Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to oneself and one's enemy.
  8. Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal.
  9. Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts.
  10. Soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles.
  11. Soldiers must report all violations of this code.

[edit] Criticism

Critics, including B'Tselem and Amnesty International accuse Israel of frequently violating their own Purity of Arms and code of ethics, and protecting soldiers who do. IDF has warned both senior and junior military officers alike of possible arrest and charges of war crimes if they set foot in Europe based on their conduct in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War.[4] Ex-IDF soldiers have also come forward as a group, Breaking the silence[5], to protest actions that they saw or engaged in during their tour in the IDF. They discuss incidents they felt were atrocities committed by the Israeli military that went unnoticed in Israeli and other Western media[6]. Also, over five hundred soldiers are signatories in a declaration denouncing various practices of the Israeli army in the occupied territories.[7]

Israel has been accused of committing war crimes in 2006 Israel-Lebanon War by the non-governmental organisations Amnesty International [8] and Human Rights Watch [9].

[edit] Counterterrorism tactics

Owing to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the tactics of the IDF have been adapted for low intensity warfare primarily against Palestinian militants operating from within densely-populated Israeli occupied territory.

[edit] Targeted killing

Main article: Targeted killing
Further information: List of Israeli assassinations

The IDF employs a controversial strategy of "focused foiling" (in Hebrew: סיכול ממוקד sikul memukad), termed "extra-judicial executions" by human rights organizations,<ref></ref> of presumed Palestinian terrorist leaders, aimed at preventing future acts of violence by killing a person related to anticipated future violence (such as terrorist at the stages of planning or executing a terrorist attack).

Among prominent figures assassinated by Israel are Abu Jihad, Abbas al-Musawi, and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

[edit] House demolitions

The IDF has historically used a strategy of demolishing houses of family members of suicide bombers, originally claiming that this was a very effective prevention tactic: Would-be bombers' families sometimes prevent the bomber, sometimes even going as far as informing to the IDF, in the hope of preventing their family-member's death as well as their house being demolished. Some would-be bombers even relented at the last moment, fearing their parent's home would be demolished. Critics, including human right organizations,<ref name=hrw-house-demolitions>Human Rights Watch - Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip</ref> contend that effectiveness does not legitimize excessive force. They also contend that the demolitions carried out by the IDF disproportionately affect civilians. However, many Israelis accept this tactic as necessary.

During the recent conflict, the number of houses demolished has increased significantly, both as the result of an increase in the number of suicide bombers, as well as due to more lenient criteria for house demolition. The IDF now routinely demolishes houses from which shots were fired at nearby traffic or settlements, houses harboring concealed Smuggling tunnel entrances in the Gaza strip, and for other security reasons.

Another main source for house demolition is in the course of fighting. After several IDF soldiers were killed early in the conflict while searching houses containing militants, the IDF started employing a tactic of surrounding such houses, calling on the occupants (civilian and militant) to exit, and demolishing the house on top of the militants within in case they do not surrender. This tactic is now used whenever feasible (i.e., non multi-rise building that's separated from other houses). Palestinians claim several cases in which houses were demolished on top of incapacitated or deaf civilian occupants. However, the IDF claims that in the vast majority of cases the occupants were militants.

In some heavy fighting incidents, esp. in the Battle of Jenin 2002 and Operation Rainbow in Rafah 2004, heavily-armored IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were used to demolish houses to widen alleyways or to secure locations for IDF troops.

Palestinians and international organizations say the use of bulldozers by the IDF is illegal. In one well-known incident, International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie was killed while trying to stop a bulldozer in Rafah.

In summer 2005, after numerous houses had been destroyed, the Israeli army itself came to the conclusion that these demolitions do not contribute to Israel's security and announced putting an end to this policy. This does however not mean that, as part of its "low intensity warfare", the IDF would not destroy civilian homes during combat.

See also: urban warfare, counter terror, and CQB

[edit] See also

[edit] Related IDF articles

[edit] General related articles

[edit] References and footnotes


[edit] Further reading

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Arms, Commands, Branches, Corps
Arms: Navy (Sea Arm) | Air Force (Air and Space Arm) | Ground Forces (GOC Army Headquarters)
Commands: Northern | Central | Southern | Home Front
Branches: General Staff | Military Intelligence | Human Resources | Computer Service | Technology and Logistics | Operations | Planning
Consultants & attachés to the General Staff: Financial advisor | Womens' Affairs advisor | Rabbinate | Military Advocate General | Court of Appeals | Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
IDF corps
Ground forces corps: Infantry | Armor | Artillery | Engineering | Field Intelligence
Infantry brigades: Paratroopers | Golani | Nahal | Givati | Kfir | Bislmach
Combat support & rear-line corps: Ordnance | Medical | Intelligence | C4I | Education | Adjutant | Logistics | Military Police | General
IDF insignia
Berets, Units symbols and Uniform | Ranks | Decorations
Additional Information
History of the Israel Defense Forces | Ministry of Defense | Military equipment | Israel Defense Forces checkpoint | Israeli military prison
See Also
Security Forces | Mossad | Shabak | Police | Border Police | Intelligence Community | Security Council | Foreign & Defense Committee
ar:جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي

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Israel Defense Forces

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