Defending Israel – the IDF

The Israel Defense Forces: a Necessity

the IDF: Israel's defense forces

The Jewish community’s primary defense force – the Haganah – became a full-scale defense force following the 1936-1939 Arab revolt. The Haganah (and other Jewish fighting forces) helped fight for Israel’s independence leading up to the British withdrawal on May 13, 1948.

On May 31, 1948, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officially began operations to protect the new State of Israel. By the end of the 1949 War of Independence the IDF had defeated five invading Arab armies. By July 1949, the IDF had beaten back every invading Arab army and armistice agreements were signed between Israel and its major opponents – effectively ending the fighting and securing the existence of the State of Israel.

Threat from the North

The threat of war from Israel’s northern border is “many times greater” than the threat from Gaza [Major General Yair Golan, 2015]. The threat comes from Hezbollah (‘the party of Allah’) which has built an arsenal of more than 65,000 missiles to use against Israel. Some of these missiles have may have sophisticated guidance systems designed to thwart Israel’s Iron Dome.

June 1967 War

In June 1967, the Israeli government ordered the Israel Air Force to destroy the Egyptian Air Force and airfields, initiating a pre-emptive strike in order to prevent the alliance of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq from carrying out a potentially devastating attack on Israel. Six days later, the IDF had won comprehensive land and air victories against the Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian forces.

Humanitarian Missions

In 2015, the IDF opened a 60-bed field hospital in Nepal following the devastating earthquake. This involved some 120 IDF medical personnel (doctors, nurses and paramedics) and approximately 95 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies from Israel, link. See video.

During the Gaza war of 2014 large swaths of Gaza were put in darkness after Hamas rockets hit high voltage power lines feeding Gaza from Israel. Under instructions from Israel’s politicians, and under the authorization and protection of the IDF, the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) worked near the border of Gaza to repair the power grids. Power was restored to those firing rockets into Israel!

In 2010, the IDF sent a humanitarian mission to Haiti. This comprised a medical and rescue team following a major earthquake. The delegation was made up of 236 members who ran a field hospital and rescued people from the rubble. During its stay in Haiti, the delegation treated more than 1,110 patients, conducted 319 successful surgeries, delivered 16 babies, including three caesarian sections, and rescued survivors from the collapsed buildings. They left 30 tons of medical equipment for use in the ongoing aid effort.

2014 Operation Protective Edge

Following incessant rocket fire from Gaza at Israel, the IDF initiated Operation Protective Edge. During the conflict some 4,700 missiles, rockets and mortars (some supplied by Iran) were fired by Hamas and affiliated terrorist organizations from Gaza into Israel’s cities and towns, link. But during this war it is claimed that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 80-90% of rockets fired at population centers in Israel, and marked 1,000 missile hits since it was first implemented in 2011 [Ynetnews], link. Another objective of the operation was to destroy Hamas attack tunnels, and over the 50 day conflict the IDF uncovered and destroyed 32 tunnels.

In 2015, an international high-level military assessment of the 2014 Gaza conflict found that Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements, despite damning and premature reports by the UN, link, link.

2012 Operation Pillar of Defense

On November 14, in response to incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, the IDF launched a widespread campaign against terror targets in Gaza. The operation had two main goals: cripple terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and defend Israelis living under fire. During the next eight days, the IDF targeted more than 1,500 terror sites across the Gaza Strip. The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months. These included 980 underground rocket launchers, 66 tunnels and 26 weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.

The IDF Today

The mission of the IDF is to defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State of Israel. That is, to protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten daily life. Israel’s military draws upon some 3 million available personnel, nearly 4,000 tanks, some 10,000 armoured fighting vehicles, 700 aircraft and a naval strength of over 100 vessels.


Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System
Image: IDF and Nehemiya Gershoni Flickr
license CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Israeli Air Force is universally recognized as one of the world’s most powerful aerial fighting forces. The Navy protects Israel from all threats emanating from the sea. It also warns of impending warfare and plays a crucial role in preventing the smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations. The IDF’s Ground Forces have played a key role in all of Israel’s wars, acting as the last line of defense for the home front and entering deep into neighbouring territory to battle enemy forces. The Intelligence Corps supplies the government with key information during wartime and closely tracks terrorists and other enemies seeking to harm Israel.

Military Technology

The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel. For example, the Merkava (‘chariot’) battle tank has been used successfully in every battle since 1982, and today the Merkava Mk-IV has been described as “the most modern in the world”. Its cutting edge technology includes the ‘Trophy‘ protection system against anti-tank missiles. The Trophy active protection system is suitable for multiple platforms. IDF technology also includes the Achzarit armoured personnel carrier, the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles. The effectiveness if Iron Dome is hotly debated, but according to statistics from the Israeli Air Force, of the 600 rockets deemed dangerous in the 50-day Gaza war, over 90% were neutralized by the Iron Dome, link. Israel is also developing Iron Beam, a laser system for vaporizing short-range rockets, artillery shells, and mortar bombs with trajectories too small for Iron Dome to track, link.


Israeli F16 Fighter
Image: Sergeant K. J. Gruenwald, License: Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons

Following 1967, the IDF has close military relations with the United States, including development cooperation, such as the THEL laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

The Air Force uses a modified form of F16 fighter. To make the pilot’s job as easy and effective as possible, the F-16I (I stands for Israel) has been outfitted with cutting-edge weapons system hardware, a specially constructed radar system and a unique helmet technology that allows the pilot to launch weapons at an enemy aircraft using sight systems.

At the end of the day the defense of Israel rests with the God of Israel, not man:

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper … I will be a wall of fire around her (Isa 54.17  Zech 2.5)

And one day Israel will lay down her defenses as Christ ushers in world-wide peace:

Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war  (Isa 2.4)