IDF celebrates 64 years of defending the State of Israel

Female pilots, Special Forces units, and goods exported from the Gaza Strip: IDF (Zahal) Website brings you 40 facts you’ve never heard of about the IDF (Zahal)

Date: 03/06/2012, 3:43 PM     Author: Hadas Dudevani

1. In recent years, the status of women in the IDF (Zahal) has improved. In the last naval captains course, the outstanding cadet was a female. Additionally, five female pilots completed training with the last course.

2. The most senior Druze officer in the IDF (Zahal) today is Chief Logistics Officer Brig. Gen. Mufid Ganam.

3. Israel is the only state in the world in which women are required to serve in the military.

4. Today, 34% of IDF (Zahal) soldiers are women, and 88% of IDF (Zahal) positions are open to women.

5. One quarter of all IDF (Zahal) officers are women.

6. Approximately 97% of Israel’s international trade is conducted by sea. Therefore, most of the navy’s work involves defending freedom of trade and of navigation.

7. The IDF (Zahal) is considered the world’s leading military in providing care to bereaved families and wounded soldiers. Many militaries around the world learn from the IDF (Zahal) how to more effectively conduct this important work.

8. The IDF (Zahal) Education Corps includes the positions of military comedian, magician, and clown.

9. Two former Chiefs of Staff have gone on to serve as Prime Minister: Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak.

10. About a month ago, the IDF (Zahal)’s first Cyber Soldier course concluded. This course is intended to give the IDF (Zahal) a significant advantage in the arena of technological warfare. The next course will start soon.

11. The present General Staff includes 29 officers, among them 21 Major Generals, three Brigadier Generals, and one Lieutenant General.

12. When the IDF (Zahal) was formed on May 26, 1948, its structure was based on that of its predecessor, the Haganah.

13. At the time of its formation, the IDF (Zahal) had 12 brigades, corresponding to the biblical 12 tribes of Israel. The IDF (Zahal)’s original brigades were: Golani, Carmeli, Alexandroni, Kiryati, Givati, Etzioni, 7, 8, Oded, Harel, Yiftah and Hanegev.

14. The most decorated soldiers in IDF (Zahal) history are the late Capt. Nehemiah Cohen, current Defense Minister Lt. Gen. (res.) Ehud Barak, and Col. (res.) Amitai Hasson.

15. This year, the Paratroopers Brigade held its first large-scale parachuting drill in 15 years.

16. Until 1970, the ranks of the Israeli Navy were different from those of the rest of the IDF (Zahal).

17. IDF (Zahal) battalions generally include both men and women. The sole exception is the Netzah Yehudah Battalion, known colloquially as Nahal Haredi, which consists entirely of ultra-Orthodox men.

18. The longest training course in the IDF (Zahal) is the three-year pilots course.

19. Every year, hundreds of volunteers enlist in the IDF (Zahal). Until six years ago, such volunteers missed an important part of IDF (Zahal) service: basic training. Today, however, volunteers complete basic training and then contribute to the IDF (Zahal) in a meaningful way.

20. Pilots spend the most days in reserve service of all IDF (Zahal) soldiers – up to 100 days per year. Special Forces soldiers are also frequently called up for reserve service, serving almost as many days as pilots.

21. At six years old, the Kfir Brigade is the IDF (Zahal)’s youngest infantry brigade.

22. The Southern Command has a field intelligence company composed exclusively of women.

23. The IDF (Zahal) is the only military in the world with a Youth and Education Corps, responsible for helping soldiers complete their high school education, absorbing soldiers from difficult backgrounds as well as new immigrants, and more.

24. The first woman to achieve the rank of Maj. Gen. in the IDF (Zahal) is Orna Barbivai, who was appointed chief of the Manpower Directorate in 2011. Among the IDF (Zahal)’s other top-ranking women are Col. Rachel Tevet-Wiesel, Advisor to the Chief of Staff on Women’s Issues, and Brig. Gen. Ayala Hakim, chief of the Telecommunications and Information Technology Unit.

25. The world’s oldest soldier, who served until he died at age 86, was Brig. Gen. David Laskov, who served as the IDF (Zahal)’s Chief Engineering Officer.

26. The IDF (Zahal)’s largest battalion is the Nitzan field intelligence battalion.

27. This year has seen the first exports from Gaza to Europe under the auspices of the Civil Administration. Exported products include carnations, strawberries, and peppers.

28. The IDF (Zahal) branch that has changed its name the most times is the Technology and Logistics Branch.

29. After radars were deployed on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, the number of infiltrations into Israel fell by between 70-80%.

30. The IDF (Zahal)’s youngest Chiefs of Staff were Yaakov Dori and Yigal Yadin, both appointed at age 32.

31. The IDF (Zahal)’s oldest Chief of Staff was Dan Halutz, appointed at age 57.

32. Members of the IDF (Zahal) band are the only IDF (Zahal) soldiers who wear lanyards on their right shoulders instead of the left.

33. In the past year, the IDF (Zahal) and the Chinese military have strengthened their relations. Last August, Gen. Chen Bingde became the first Chinese Chief of Staff to visit Israel, and IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz recently visited China.

34. The IDF (Zahal) is considered one of the world’s most advanced militaries with regard to defense against anti-tank missiles. Among its notable advances is the Trophy active protection system, which defends tanks by intercepting incoming missiles.

35. The present commander of the Desert Patrol Battalion is the unit’s first Bedouin commander.

36. Every IDF (Zahal) soldier receives a pamphlet listing and explaining the IDF (Zahal)’s ethical values – a document that soldiers are obligated to carry whenever in uniform.

37. As of 2012, the city with the highest enlistment rate is Modi’in, at 92.4%.

38. Although the Israeli Navy is the smallest corps of the IDF (Zahal), its submarines are the military’s most expensive equipment, at a cost of roughly a half billion dollars each.

39. The IDF (Zahal)’s National Rescue Unit responds to disasters not only within Israel, but abroad as well. It has taken part in the rescue efforts following earthquakes in Turkey, Haiti, and Japan.

40. The Armored Corps was the first unit to have its beret march broadcast live on the Internet.