Israel Defense Forces
Prayer for the Well-Being of the
Israel Defense Forces
The following prayer is recited by observant (Orthodox) Jews in Israel
and all over the world during the morning Shabbat prayers, after reading the weekly Torah portion:
May He who blessed our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless the soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces, who
stand watch over our land and the cities of our Lord, from the Lebanese border to the desert of Egypt and from the great sea
to the verge of the wilderness, on land, in the air, and at sea. May G-d strike down before them our enemies who rise against
us. May the Holy One save and spare our soldiers from all forms of woe and distress, of affliction and illness, and may He
invest their every action with blessing and success. May He vanquish by their means those who hate us, and may He adorn them
with a crown of deliverance and a mantle of victory. Thus may the verse be fulfilled: "For it is the Lord your G-d who marches
with you to do battle for you against your enemy, to bring you victory." Now let us respond "Amen."
The IDF, founded in 1948, ranks among the most battle-trained armed forces in the world, having had to defend the
country in five major wars. Currently, the IDF's security objectives are to defend
the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State of Israel, deter all enemies and curb all forms of terrorism
which threaten daily life. Its main tasks include spearheading the war against terrorism, both inside Israel and across its
borders; and maintaining a deterrent capability to prevent the outbreak of hostilities.
To ensure its success, the IDF's doctrine at the strategic level is defensive, while its tactics are offensive. Given
the country's lack of territorial depth, the IDF must take initiative when deemed necessary and, if attacked, to quickly transfer
the battleground to the enemy's land. Though it has always been outnumbered by its enemies, the IDF maintains a qualitative
advantage by deploying advanced weapons systems, many of which are developed and manufactured in Israel for its specific needs.
The IDF's main resource, however, is the high caliber of its soldiers.
In preparing for defense, the IDF deploys a small standing army (made
up of conscripts and career personnel) with early warning capability, and a regular air force and navy. The majority of its
forces are reservists, who are called up regularly for training and service and who, in time of war or crisis, are quickly
mobilized into their units from all parts of the country.
The IDF's three service branches (ground forces, air force and navy) function under a unified command, headed by the
chief-of-staff, with the rank of lieutenant-general, who is responsible to the Minister of Defense. The chief-of staff is
appointed by the government, on recommendation of the prime minister and minister of defense, for a three-year term, which
is usually extended for an additional year.
Except when combat duty is involved, men and women soldiers of all ranks
serve side by side as technicians, communications and intelligence specialists, combat instructors, cartographers, administrative
and ordnance personnel, computer operators, doctors, lawyers and the like. The IDF is responsive to the cultural and social
needs of its soldiers, providing recreational and educational activities, as well as personal support services. Recruits with
incomplete educational backgrounds are given opportunities to upgrade their level of education, and career officers are encouraged
to study at the IDF's expense during their service. The integration of new immigrant soldiers is facilitated through special
Hebrew language instruction and other programs. Active in nation-building enterprises since its inception, the IDF also provides
remedial and supplementary education to civilian populations and contributes to the absorption of newcomers among the population
at large. In times of national crisis or emergency, the IDF responds immediately with appropriate action and assigns trained
personnel to fill essential jobs or carry out special tasks.
Society and Service
Service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is a measure of involvement in the country's life. Most men and single
women are inducted into the IDF at age 18, women for two years and men for three, followed by service in the reserves, men
up to age 51 and single women to age 24.
Out of respect for their community's religious commitments, Orthodox
women may be exempted, although many choose to perform 1-2 years national service in the civilian sector. Most ultra-Orthodox
men are granted deferments while pursuing Torah studies, and those who serve in the IDF mainly fulfill religious functions.
In essence, the society and army are one, as a broad spectrum of the population serves periodically over many years,
with those in and out of uniform virtually interchangeable. Since soldiers often hold ranks not necessarily corresponding
with their status in civilian life, the IDF has become a highly effective equalizer in the society and contributes greatly
to integrating individuals from all walks of life. The IDF also helps new immigrants during their period of military service
to acclimate to Israeli life in a framework wherein each person is undergoing the same process.
Over the years, the IDF has assumed a variety of national-social functions for the society at large; providing special
services for new immigrants; upgrading educational levels of adults who were denied basic education in their countries of
origin; supplying teachers to development towns; assisting in disadvantaged areas and responding to emergency situations in
the civilian sector.
The Ethical Code of the IDF
The IDF draws its values and basic principles from three traditions:
a. The tradition of the Jewish People throughout its history.
b. The tradition of the State of Israel, its democratic principles, laws and institutions.
c. The tradition of the IDF and its military heritage as the Israel Defense Forces.
The obligation to fulfill the mission and ensure military victory will be the compass guiding any effort to balance
these values and basic principles of The Spirit of the IDF. The striving for proper balance according to this compass will
make it possible to preserve the IDF as a body of high quality, imbued with values, and which fulfills its duties and missions
Perseverance in Mission
The IDF serviceman will fight and conduct himself with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; he will persevere
in his mission courageously, resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering his own life.
The perseverance of IDF servicemen in their mission is their capability and readiness to fight courageously in the
face of danger and in most challenging situations; to strive unremittingly to achieve the military goal effectively, with
full regard for the particular circumstances, notwithstanding any difficulty, stress or adversity or even mortal danger. They
will do so with proper judgment and with due regard for risks.
The IDF serviceman will always go to the aid of his comrades when they need his help or depend on him, despite any
danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking his life.
The fellowship of IDF servicemen is their bond as comrades in arms. It is their unwavering commitment to each other,
their readiness to extend appropriate assistance, to go to the aid of a comrade, and even risk their lives on his behalf.
In all their actions they will uphold and strengthen the solidarity of their unit in full cooperation with other units, and
in support of the overall goals of the IDF.
The IDF serviceman will execute completely and successfully all that is required of him according to the letter and
spirit of his orders and within the framework of the law.
The discipline of IDF servicemen is their readiness to act to the full extent of their abilities, to carry out what
is demanded of them completely, according to their understanding of the letter of the orders they have received, and successfully,
according to the spirit of their orders. It is their readiness to obey orders amidst a constant striving to execute them with
understanding and dedication. They will take care to issue only legal orders, and disavow manifestly illegal orders.
The IDF serviceman will, above all, preserve human life, in the recognition of its supreme value and will place himself
or others at risk solely to the extent required to carry out his mission.
The sanctity of life in the eyes of the IDF servicemen will find expression in all of their actions, in deliberate
and meticulous planning, in safe and intelligent training and in proper execution of their mission. In evaluating the risk
to self and others, they will use the appropriate standards and will exercise constant care to limit injury to life to the
extent required to accomplish the mission.
The IDF serviceman will act with complete dedication in the defense of the State of Israel and its citizens, according
to IDF orders, within the framework of the laws of the State and democratic principles.
The loyalty of IDF servicemen is their dedication, in all actions, to their homeland, the State of Israel, its citizens
and armed forces, and their constant readiness to fight and devote all their power, even at the risk of their own lives, in
the defense of the sovereign State of Israel and the lives and the safety of its inhabitants, according to the values and
orders of the IDF, while following the laws and the democratic principles of the State.
The IDF serviceman will comport himself as is required of him and will,
himself, act as he demands of others, thoughtfully and dedicatedly, aware of his ability and responsibility to serve as a
role model to those around him.
The personal example of the IDF servicemen is their acting as is demanded of them and as they themselves demand of
others, their clear and convincing readiness to serve as an example to those around them, in their actions and comportment,
to create, uphold and foster mutual identification and joint responsibility in properly carrying out their tasks and accomplishing
their missions in all areas of military activity.
The IDF serviceman will aspire to be familiar with and understand the body of knowledge pertaining to his military
position and will master every skill necessary for carrying out his duties.
The professionalism of IDF servicemen is their ability to correctly perform their military duties through striving
to constantly excel in and improve their unit's and their individual achievements. They will do so by broadening their knowledge,
and increasing proficiency, based upon the lessons of experience and study of the heritage and by expanding and deepening
their understanding of the body of military knowledge.
Purity of Arms
The IDF serviceman will use force of arms only for the purpose of subduing the enemy to the necessary extent and will
limit his use of force so as to prevent unnecessary harm to human life and limb, dignity and property.
The IDF servicemen's purity of arms is their selfcontrol in use of armed force. They will use their arms only
for the purpose of achieving their mission, without inflicting unnecessary injury to human life or limb; dignity or property,
of both soldiers and civilians, with special consideration for the defenseless, whether in wartime, or during routine security
operations, or in the absence of combat, or times of peace.
The IDF serviceman will constantly see himself as a representative and an emissary of the IDF. As such he will act
solely on the basis of the authority he has been given and orders he has been issued.
The representativeness of IDF servicemen is their consciousness, expressed in all their actions, that the armed force
placed in their hands and the power to use it are given to them only as members of the IDF and its authorized representatives,
duly executing their orders in accordance with the laws of the State of Israel and is subject to its Government.
The IDF serviceman will see himself as an active participant in the defense of his country and its citizens. He will
carry out his duties decisively, resolutely and with vigor, within the limits of his authority.
The responsibility of IDF servicemen is their active partnership and their readiness to use their utmost abilities
in the defense of the State, its sovereignty, and the lives and safety of its citizens, within the framework of authority
granted them by the IDF. They will carry out their duties fully, diligently, and with determination, commitment and initiative,
in clear awareness that they are answerable for any consequences.
The IDF serviceman will strive in all his actions to fulfill his duties correctly and at the highest professional
level, from exacting and thorough preparation to true, honest, complete and precise reporting.
The trustworthiness of IDF servicemen is their reliability in fully carrying out their charge, using their military
skills, with the sincere belief and conviction that they are acting professionally. They are ready at all times to present
things as they are, in planning, executing and reporting truthfully, completely, courageously and honestly.
Wars in Israel
1948 War of Independence
On 14 May 1948
the State of Israel was proclaimed according to the UN partition plan (1947). Less than 24 hours later, the regular armies
of Egypt, Jordan, Syria,
Lebanon and Iraq invaded the country, forcing Israel
to defend the sovereignty it had regained in its ancestral homeland. In what became known as Israel's War of Independence,
the newly formed, poorly equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repulsed the invaders in fierce intermittent fighting, which
lasted some 15 months and claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives (nearly one percent of the country's Jewish population at the time).
During the first few months of 1949, direct negotiations were conducted
under UN auspices between Israel and each
of the invading countries (except Iraq
which has refused to negotiate with Israel
to date), resulting in armistice agreements which reflected the situation at the end of the fighting. Accordingly, the coastal
plain, Galilee and the entire Negev were within Israel's sovereignty, Judea
and Samaria (the West Bank)
came under Jordanian rule, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian administration, and the city of Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan
controlling the eastern part, including the Old City, and Israel
the western sector.
1956 Sinai Campaign
The 1949 armistice agreements had not only failed to pave the way to permanent peace, but were also constantly violated.
In contradiction to the UN Security Council resolution of 1 September 1951, Israeli and Israel-bound shipping was prevented
from passing through the Suez Canal; the blockade of the Straits of Tiran was
tightened; incursions into Israel of terrorist squads from neighboring Arab countries for murder and sabotage occurred with
increasing frequency; and the Sinai peninsula was gradually converted into a huge Egyptian military base.
Upon the signing of a tripartate military alliance by Egypt,
Syria and Jordan (October 1956), the imminent threat to Israel's existence was intensified. In the course of an eight-day campaign, the
IDF captured the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai peninsula, halting 10 miles (16 km.) east
of the Suez Canal. A United Nations decision to station a UN Emergency Force (UNEF) along
the Egypt-Israel border and Egyptian assurances of free navigation in the Gulf
of Eilat led Israel
to agree to withdraw in stages (November 1956 - March 1957) from the areas taken a few weeks earlier. Consequently, the Straits
of Tiran were opened, enabling the development of trade with Asian and East African countries as well as oil imports from
the Persian Gulf.
1967 Six-Day War
Hopes for another decade of relative tranquillity were dashed with the escalation of Arab terrorist raids across the
Egyptian and Jordanian borders, persistent Syrian artillery bombardment of agricultural settlements in northern Galilee and massive military build-ups by the neighboring
Arab states. When Egypt again moved large numbers of troops into the Sinai desert (May 1967), ordered the UN peacekeeping
forces (deployed since 1957) out of the area, reimposed the blockade of the Straits of Tiran and entered into a military alliance
with Jordan, Israel found itself faced by hostile Arab armies on all fronts. As Egypt had violated the arrangements agreed
upon following the 1956 Sinai Campaign, Israel invoked its inherent right of self-defense, launching a preemptive strike (5
June 1967) against Egypt in the south, followed by a counterattack against Jordan in the east and the routing of Syrian forces
entrenched on the Golan Heights in the north.
At the end of six days of fighting, previous cease-fire lines were replaced by new ones, with Judea, Samaria, Gaza,
the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights under Israel's control. As a result, the northern villages were freed from 19 years
of recurrent Syrian shelling; the passage of Israeli and Israel-bound shipping through the Straits of Tiran was ensured; and
Jerusalem, which had been divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule since 1949, was reunified under Israel's authority.
From War to War
The war over, Israel's diplomatic challenge was to translate its military gains into a permanent peace based on UN
Security Council Resolution 242, which called for "acknowledgment of the sovereignty,
territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure
and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." However, the Arab position, as formulated at the Khartoum Summit
Conference (August 1967) called for "no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel." In September
1968, Egypt initiated a 'war of attrition,' with sporadic, static actions along the banks of the Suez Canal, which escalated
into full-scale, localized fighting, causing heavy casualties on both sides. Hostilities ended in 1970 when Egypt and Israel
accepted a renewed cease-fire along the Suez Canal.
1973 Yom Kippur War
Three years of relative calm along the borders were shattered on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the holiest day of
the Jewish year, when Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise assault
against Israel (6 October 1973), with the Egyptian army crossing the Suez Canal and Syrian troops penetrating the Golan Heights.
During the next three weeks, the Israel Defense Forces turned the tide of battle and repulsed the attackers, crossing the
Suez Canal into Egypt and advancing to within 20 miles (32 km.) of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Two years of difficult negotiations
between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Syria resulted in disengagement agreements, according to which Israel withdrew
from parts of the territories captured during the war.
1982 Operation Peace for Galilee
The international boundary line with Lebanon has never been challenged by either side. However, when the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) redeployed itself in southern Lebanon after being
expelled from Jordan (1970) and perpetrated repeated terrorist actions against the towns and villages of northern Israel (Galilee),
which caused many casualties and much damage, the Israel Defense Forces crossed the border into Lebanon (1982). "Operation
Peace for Galilee" resulted in removing the bulk of the PLO's organizational and military infrastructure from the area. Since
then, Israel has maintained a small security zone in southern Lebanon adjacent to its northern border to safeguard its population
in Galilee against continued attacks by hostile elements.
The Jewish Holocaust
In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed.
The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and their collaborators
as a central act of state during World War II. The destruction of European Jewry stands as the archetype of genocide in human
Six million Jews were killed simply because they were Jews.
Where was G-d during the Holocaust?
"The element that distinguishes the Holocaust was the search for G-d. From morning till night we cried out for a sign
that G-d was still with us... We sought Him, but we did not find Him. We were always accompanied by the crushing and unsettling
feeling that G-d had disappeared from our midst." Testimony of Holocaust Survivor.
The Holocaust in the Torah
To find about the Holocaust in the Torah, look into Dvarim (Deuteronomy)
31:16-18. Take the letter "Hei" from the word "Moshe" and count 49 letters. Take the next letter, the "Shin" from the word
"Shama." Count another 49 letters, and then take the "Vav", count 49 letters again and take the "Alef", count again and take
the "Hei." These letters spell "HaShoah" (The Holocaust).
This is the translation of the text where "HaShoah" was found:
"G-d said to Moses: When you go and lie with your ancestors, this nation shall rise up and stray after the alien gods
of the land into which they are coming. They will thus abandon Me and violate the covenant that I have made with them. I will
then display anger and abandon them. I will hide My face from them and they will be [their enemies'] prey. Beset by many evils
and troubles, they will say, "It is because my G-d is no longer with me that these evils have befallen me." On that day I
will utterly hide My face because of all the evil that they have done in turning to alien gods."
Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 31:16-18
History shows that every time the Jews stray away from their religion, anti-Jewish hatred increases. If the Jews forget they are Jewish, the non-Jews will surely remind them. 6 millions Jews were murdered
during the Holocaust. This number includes 1.5 million Jewish children. Since 1945, over 6 million Jews have assimilated and
over 1.5 million abortions have been performed in the State of Israel.
Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Violent Neo-Nazi activity and Arab hatred towards the Jews is
rapidly increasing in the world today. This is not a coincidence. Only a strong Jewish education for every single Jew, for
every Jewish family, in every Jewish community in the world, can prevent tragedy from ever happening again.