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Israeli military service



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About I.D.F.

The Israel Defense Forces (official website), commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal (צה"ל), are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force, and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel.

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. In 1965, the Israel Defense Forces was awarded the Israel Prize for its contribution to education.

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, the Iron Dome, Trophy countermeasure, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles.
The Uzi submachine gun was invented in Israel and used by the IDF until December 2003, ending a service that began in 1954. Following 1967, the IDF has had close military relations with the United States, including development cooperation, such as on the F-15I jet, THEL laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

The Mission

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."




Military service routes

The military service is held in three different tracks:

  • Regular service (שירות חובה) – mandatory military service which is held according to the Israeli security service law.
  • Permanent Service (שירות קבע) – military service which is held as part of a contractual agreement between the IDF and the permanent position holder.
  • Reserve service (שירות מילואים) – a military service in which citizens are called for active duty of at most a month every year, for training activities and ongoing defense activities and especially for the purpose of increasing the military forces in case of a war.

Sometimes the IDF would also hold pre-military courses (קורס קדם צבאי or קד"צ) for soon to be regular service soldiers.


Special service routes
  • Shoher (שוחר), a person enrolled in pre-military studies (High School, Technical College up to Eng degree, some of the קד"ץ courses) – after completing the 12th study year will do a 2 month boot-camp, if allowed return to continue the studies to receive P.A education after each study year will do at least two weeks training. For successful candidates will continue for an Engineering Bachelor degree. Shoher will be enrolled as a regular service if he dropped out before finished his P.A education or in any finishing education stage (after High School, after P.A or after receiving the Bachelor degree).

Shoher will have the ability to serve in R&D units without having the engineering credentials if an officer finds him as worthy and could recommend him for the R&D units, R&D unit have the option to provide "על תקן מהנדס" certificate for few selected personal to allow person to work on life saving or flight equipment without having an Eng. license (the certificate isn't valid for medical R&D machinery), the certificate is provided by the highest in command in the research field (as an example for the Air Force it is the Chef of Equipment Group).

  • Civilian working for the IDF, a civilian working for the military.

The Israeli Manpower Directorate at the Israeli General Staff is the body which coordinates and assembles activities related to the control over human resources and its placement.


Regular service

National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although Arab (but not Druze) citizens are exempted if they so please, and other exceptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds (see Profile 21). The Tal law, which exempts ultra-orthodox Jews from service, has been the subject of several court cases as well as considerable legislative controversy.

Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two. The IDF women who volunteer for several combat positions often serve for three years, due to the longer period of training. Women in other positions, such as programmers, who also require lengthy training time, may also serve three years. Women in most combat positions are also required to serve in the reserve for several years after they leave regular service.

Some distinguished recruits are selected to be trained in order to eventually become members of special forces units. Every brigade in the IDF has its own special force branch.

Career soldiers are paid on average NIS 23,000 a month, fifty times the NIS 460 paid to conscripts.

In 1998-2000, only about 9% of those who refused to serve in the Israeli military were granted exemption.

Permanent service

Permanent service is designed for soldiers who choose to continue serving in the army after their regular service, for a short or long period, and in many cases making the military their career. Permanent service usually begins immediately after the mandatory Regular service period, but there are also soldiers who get released from military at the end of the mandatory Regular service period and who get recruited back to the military as Permanent service soldiers in a later period.

Permanent service is based on a contractual agreement between the IDF and the permanent position holder. The service contract defines how long the soldier's service would be, and towards the end of the contract period a discussion may rise on the extension of the soldier's service duration. Many times, regular service soldiers are required to commit to a permanent service after the mandatory Regular service period, in exchange for assigning them in military positions which require a long training period.

In exchange for the Permanent service, the Permanent service soldiers receive full wages, and when serving for a long period as a permanent service soldier, they are also entitled for a pension from the army. This right is given to the Permanent service soldiers in a relatively early stage of their life in comparison to the rest of the Israeli retirees.

Reserve service

After personnel complete their regular service, the IDF may call up men for:

  • reserve service of up to one month annually, until the age of 43–45 (reservists may volunteer after this age)
  • 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.

Although still available for call-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, the 2006 Lebanon War) exemptions are rarely requested or exercised; units generally achieve recruitment rates above those considered fully manned.

Legislation (set to take effect by 13 March 2008) has proposed 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 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.

Non-IDF service

Other than the National Service (Sherut Leumi), IDF conscripts may serve in bodies other than the IDF in a number of ways.

The combat option is Israel Border Police (Magav – the exact translation from Hebrew means "border guard") service, part of the Israel Police. Some soldiers complete their IDF combat training and later undergo additional counter terror and Border Police training. These are assigned to Border Police units. The Border Police units fight side by side with the regular IDF combat units though to a lower capacity. They are also responsible for security in heavy urban areas such as Jerusalem and security and crime fighting in rural areas.

Non-combat services include the Mandatory Police Service (Shaham) program, where youth serve in the Israeli Police, Israel Prison Service, or other wings of the Israeli Security Forces instead of the regular army service.

Women

Israel is the only nation to conscript women and assign some of them to infantry combatant service which places them directly in the line of enemy fire.

Civilian pilot and aeronautical engineer Alice Miller successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to take the Israeli Air Force pilot training exams, after being rejected on grounds of gender. Though president Ezer Weizman, a former IAF commander, told Miller that she would be better off staying home and darning socks, the court eventually ruled in 1996 that the IAF could not exclude qualified women from pilot training. Even though Miller would not pass the exams, the ruling was a watershed, opening doors for women in new IDF roles. Female legislators took advantage of the momentum to draft a bill allowing women to volunteer for any position, if they could qualify.

In 2000, the Equality amendment to the Military Service law stated that the right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men. Women have taken part in Israel’s military before and since the founding of the state in 1948. Women started to enter combat support and light combat roles in a few areas, including the Artillery Corps, infantry units and armored divisions. A few platoons named Karakal were formed for men and women to serve together in light infantry. By 2000 Karakal became a full-fledged battalion. Many women would also join the Border Police.

In June 2011, Maj. General Orna Barbivai became the first female major general in the IDF, replacing head of the directorate Maj. General Avi Zamir. Barbivai stated, "I am proud to be the first woman to become a major general and to be part of an organization in which equality is a central principle. 90 percent of jobs in the IDF are open to women and I am sure that there are other women who will continue to break down barriers."




Minorities in the IDF

Non-Jewish minorities tended to serve in one of several special units: the Minorities Unit, also known as Unit 300; the Druze Reconnaissance Unit; and the Trackers Unit, which comprised mostly Negev Bedouins. In 1982 the IDF general staff decided to integrate the armed forces by opening up other units to minorities, while placing some Jewish conscripts in the Minorities Unit. Until 1988 the intelligence corps and the air force remained closed to minorities.

 

Druze and Circassians

Israel, being a Jewish state, has a majority of Jewish soldiers. Druze and Circassian men are subject to mandatory conscription to the IDF just like Israeli Jews. Originally, they served in the framework of a special unit called "The Minorities' Unit", which still exists today, in the form of the independent Herev ("Sword") battalion. However, since the 1980s Druze soldiers have increasingly protested this practice, which they considered a means of segregating them and denying them access to elite units (like sayeret units). The army has increasingly admitted Druze soldiers to regular combat units and promoted them to higher ranks from which they had been previously excluded. In recent years, several Druze officers have reached ranks as high as Major General and many have received commendations for distinguished service. In proportion to their numbers, the Druze people achieve much higher—documented—levels in the Israeli army than other soldiers. Nevertheless, some Druze still charge that discrimination continues, such as exclusion from the Air Force, although the official low security classification for Druze has been abolished for some time. The first Druze aircraft navigator completed his training course in 2005; his identity is protected as are those of all air force pilots. During the Israeli War of Independence, many Druze who had initially sided with the Arabs deserted their ranks to either return to their villages or side with Israel in various capacities.

Since the late 1970s the Druze Initiative Committee, centered at the village of Beit Jan and linked to the Israeli Communist Party, has campaigned to abolish Druze conscription.

Military service is a tradition among some of the Druze population, with most opposition in Druze communities of the Golan Heights; 83 percent of Druze boys serve in the army, according to the IDF's statistics. According to the Israeli army, 369 Druze soldiers have been killed in combat operations since 1948.

 

Bedouins and Israeli Arabs

By law, all Israeli citizens are subject to conscription. The Defense Minister has complete discretion to grant exemption 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 (most notably Israeli Arabs). However, there is a long-standing government policy of encouraging Bedouins to volunteer and of offering them various inducements, and in some impoverished Bedouin communities a military career seems one of the few means of (relative) social mobility available. Also, Muslims and Christians are accepted as volunteers, even at an age greater than 18.

From among non-Bedouin 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 result of their military service; of them the most famous is a Bedouin officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abd el-Majid Hidr (also known as Amos Yarkoni), who received the Order of Distinction. Vahid el Huzil was the first Bedouin to be a battalion commander. Recently, a Bedouin officer was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Until the second term of Yitzhak Rabin as Prime Minister (1992–1995), social benefits given to families in which at least one member (including a grandfather, 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.

Rather than perform army service, Israeli Arab youths have the option to volunteer to national service and receive benefits similar to those received by discharged soldiers. The volunteers are generally allocated to Arab populations, where they assist with social and community matters. As of 2010 there are 1,473 Arabs volunteering for national service. According to sources in the national service administration, Arab leaders are counseling youths to refrain from performing services to the state. According to a National Service official, "For years the Arab leadership has demanded, justifiably, benefits for Arab youths similar to those received by discharged soldiers. Now, when this opportunity is available, it is precisely these leaders who reject the state's call to come and do the service, and receive these benefits".

Although Arabs are not obligated to serve in IDF, any Arab can volunteer. A Muslim Arab woman is currently serving as a medic with unit 669.

Cpl. Elinor Joseph from Haifa became the first female Arab combat soldier for IDF. Elinor said:

...there was a Katyusha [rocket] that fell near my house and also hurt Arabs. If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs.

Another Arab-Muslim officer in the IDF is Hisham Abu Varia, who is currently a Second Lieutenant.

In October 2012, the IDF promoted Mona Abdo to become the first female Christian Arab to the rank of combat commander. Abdo had voluntarily enlisted in the IDF, which her family had encouraged, and transferred from the Ordnance Corps to the Caracal Battalion, a mixed-gender unit with both Jewish and Arab soldiers.

 

Haredim

Men in the Haredi community may choose to defer service while enrolled in yeshivot (see Tal committee); many avoid conscription altogether. This special arrangement is called Torato Omanuto, and has given rise to tensions between the Israeli religious and secular communities. While options exist for Haredim to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, most Haredim do not choose to serve in the IDF.

Haredi males have the option of serving in the 97th "Netzah Yehuda" Infantry Battalion. This unit is a standard IDF infantry battalion focused on the Jenin region. To allow Haredi soldiers to serve, the Netzah Yehuda military bases follow the highest standards of Jewish dietary laws; the only women permitted on these bases are wives of soldiers and officers. Additionally, some Haredim serve in the IDF via the Hesder system, principally designed for the Religious Zionist sector; it is a 5-year program which includes 2 years of religious studies, 1½ years of military service and 1½ years of religious studies during which the soldiers can be recalled to active duty at any moment. Haredi soldiers are permitted to join other units of the IDF as well, but rarely do.

The IDF has identified an urgent gap of hundreds of soldiers in their technical units that might be filled by the Haredi. The IAF is currently using Defense contractors to fill in the gaps and continue operations.

 

LGBT people

Israel is one of 24 nations that allow openly gay individuals to serve in the military. Since the early 1990s, sexual identity presents no formal barrier in terms of soldiers' military specialization or eligibility for promotion.

Until the 1980s, the IDF tended to discharge soldiers who were openly gay. In 1983, the IDF permitted homosexuals to serve, but banned them from intelligence and top-secret positions. A decade later, Professor Uzi Even, an IDF reserves officer and chairman of Tel Aviv University’s Chemistry Department revealed that his rank had been revoked and that he had been barred from researching sensitive topics in military intelligence, solely because of his sexual orientation. His testimony to the Knesset in 1993 raised a political storm, forcing the IDF to remove such restrictions against gays.

The chief of staff's policy states that it is strictly forbidden to harm or hurt anyone's dignity or feeling based on their gender or sexual orientation in any way, including signs, slogans, pictures, poems, lectures, any means of guidance, propaganda, publishing, voicing, and utterance. Moreover, gays in the IDF have additional rights, such as the right to take a shower alone if they want to. According to a University of California, Santa Barbara study, a brigadier general stated that Israelis show a "great tolerance" for gay soldiers. Consul David Saranga at the Israeli Consulate in New York, who was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times, said, “It's a non-issue. You can be a very good officer, a creative one, a brave one, and be gay at the same time.”

A study published by the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) Movement in January 2012 found that half of the homosexual soldiers who serve in the IDF suffer from violence and homophobia, although the head of the group said that "I am happy to say that the intention among the top brass is to change that."

 

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people

Israel is the only country in the world that requires the deaf and hard-of-hearing people to serve in the conscription or military. The sign language interpreters are provided during the training, and many of them serve in the non-combat capacities such as mappers, office work, and like. The deaf and hard-of-hearing people who have served IDF have better opportunities in the employment, housing, education, and other areas than the ones who do not serve. In addition, they gained a greater respect and recognition for their service and contribution to the country as well as stronger self-esteem and motivation.

 

Vegans

According to a Care2 report, vegans in the IDF may refuse vaccination if they oppose animal testing. They are provided with special allowances to buy their own food. They are also given artificial leather boots.



Source: www.wikipedia.com






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