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Israel Military
 
 
 
 
 

General

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (Hebrew: צבא ההגנה לישראל‎ Tsva Hahagana LeYisrael), "Army (or Force, literally "Host") 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, Air Force and Sea Corps.

It was founded during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and derived from paramilitary organisations (chiefly the Haganah) that preceded Israel's founding. Today, the Israel Defense Forces is among the most battle-trained armed forces in the world, having been involved in several major wars and numerous border conflicts. The IDF's main resource is the training quality of its soldiers and expert institutions, rather than sheer numbers of soldiers. It also relies heavily on high-tech weapons systems, some of which are developed and manufactured in Israel for its specific needs and others which are imported (especially from Turkey and the United States).

Most Israelis, male and female, are drafted into the military at age eighteen; men are required to serve for three years, while women are required to serve for two years. Following compulsory service, Israeli men become part of the reserve forces and are usually required to serve several weeks each year as reservists until their forties; women are exempt from doing reserve duty, although some volunteer. Meanwhile, Israeli Arabs and those participating in religious studies full-time remain exempt from conscription, despite surrounding controversy. An alternative for those who receive exemptions on various grounds is "sherut leumi", or national service, which involves a program of service in hospitals, schools and other social welfare frameworks.

In 2002, the Israeli army had 120,000 active duty soldiers and could mobilise as many as 530,000 more soldiers. Armaments included 3,750 main battle tanks. The navy had 6,500 regulars and 11,500 reservists; vessels included 3 submarines and 48 patrol and coastal combatants. The air force had 35,000 regulars and 57,000 reserves. There were 454 functional combat aircraft, with 250 aircraft in reserve and 135 armed helicopters. It is believed that Israel maintains a nuclear arsenal of more than 100 weapons. The reserve forces can be effectively mobilised in 48–72 hours. In addition, there are 8,050 paramilitary border police.

Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity toward its nuclear capabilities, though it is widely regarded as possessing nuclear weapons.

Overview

Military branches:
Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel Naval Forces (INF), Israel Air Force (IAF) (2007)

Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for men, 21 months for women (2004)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 17-49: 1,492,125
females age 17-49: 1,443,916 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 17-49: 1,255,902
females age 17-49: 1,212,394 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 53,760
females age 15-49: 51,293 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
7.3% (2006)