Health plays a major role in the Israeli army. The IDF makes every effort to ensure that its soldiers are ready to physically defend the State of Israel while applying the universal values of the medical profession. Today, in honor of World Health Day, here are five key ways that the IDF keeps our soldiers, and the civilians we care for, healthy.
1. Medicine as an IDF profession
When we look at the positions Israeli soldiers choose to pursue, it is clear that health has a special place in their lives.
Some take the decision to become paramedics and so help save wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
An IDF medic treats a soldier during an exercise
Others decide to embark on an academic military service ( “atuda” in Hebrew) in the field of medicine: soldiers study medicine at university and then integrate into the IDF as a career officer and physician in IDF bases. This choice is bold, but there are many who do it.
IDF medics treat a patient in their ambulance
Major Shani is part of this group of army doctors and she is particularly proud: she is the first woman doctor to serve in Duvdevan, the elite unit of the Israeli army paratroopers.
The IDF understands that sport is a necessity for soldiers serving in its ranks.
One source of great Israel pride is Krav Maga, a self-defense method. It was originally created by Imi Lichtenfeld, to protect the Jewish community of Bratislava in 1930. Krav Maga has since been adopted by the IDF. The popularity of Krav Maga today reaches beyond the borders of the State of Israel. Hundreds of Israeli clubs teach this martial art around the world, especially to women who see it as a self-defense technique against potential attackers.
See for yourself and take a lesson in Krav Maga:
In addition to the martial arts, IDF bases regularly organize marathons to remind soldiers that exercise is not always about discipline, but it is essential to their well-being.
Nahal runs a marathon
3. A healthy diet
The organic food revolution has crossed countries and continents in recent years. The IDF has also decided to bring the trend into its bases. Through its “MasterChef” competition, the IDF teaches its soldiers about eating healthily. These days food competitions are intended to give soldiers access to quality food, and to instill good eating habits.
Participants in the contest are required to use ingredients available in most IDF bases so that lessons of the contest will have everyday applicability.
An IDF Masterchef competition
4. Social networks for health
A medical unit of the IDF is behind the development of the first interactive program to learn advanced medicine using YouTube and computer games. The idea is to replace educational textbooks with accessible and interactive online content. This unique method allows soldiers to deepen their knowledge of medicine by providing advanced tools to save lives on the battlefield.
An IDF game that simulates medical emergencies
5. IDF Without Borders, for medicine without borders
All IDF soldiers serving in a medical unit learn the universal values of the medical profession. They learn that wherever they are, IDF soldiers have the duty to rescue anyone in need, regardless of religion or origin. Just last week in Judea and Samaria, there was a car accident involving several Palestinians. An IDF Medical Corps team arrived on the scene first and treated the 20 people who had been wounded.
IDF doctors treat patients in the Philippines field hospital
From an international perspective, the Israeli army has continued since 1953 to send humanitarian delegations around the world to assist those in need. Over 60 years, IDF soldiers have organized more than 23 delegations around the world with one goal: to give hope to those who have lost it.
MAP of IDF Aid Delegations Around the World:
View #IDFWithoutBorders in a larger map