“The defense of the state, its citizens and residents” – this seems like an obvious value for an organization called the Israel Defense Forces. Yet in the IDF (Zahal), this value is something much more fundamental. This is a concept that dates back to the source and cultural essence of the Jewish people.
The defense of the state
Before the establishment of the State of Israel, the inhabitants defended their towns and villages themselves. As generations of Zionists arrived on Israel’s shores, they formed organized groups to defend Jews proudly as Jews. Once independence was declared, a new responsibility fell into the hands of the fighters who had now become IDF (Zahal) soldiers: they would have to defend the Jewish state, to respect its sovereignty and to serve its leaders.
The most important part of defending a state is defending its citizens; both those living in Israel and those living beyond the country’s borders. It is for this reason that the Israeli security services and intelligence community work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens in the four corners of the world. For example, the case of Operation Entebbe, in which the IDF (Zahal) sent soldiers to Uganda to rescue passengers of a flight hijacked by terrorists. Or the Sabena plane that took off from the city of Vienna, was hijacked by the terrorist organization Black September, and was rescued by IDF (Zahal) soldiers.
The safely returned Israel citizens after Operation Entebbe
And its residents
The mission of the IDF (Zahal) does not stop with the defense of the state and its citizens. All people residing within Israel’s borders are under the protection of the IDF (Zahal). Whether they’re Israelis or not, Jewish or not, the IDF (Zahal) has promised to protect the people who fall under its responsibility. The IDF (Zahal) Home Front Command, for example, trains officers to be responsible for educating the public to respond properly in case of emergency. These officers communicate well in their native Hebrew, but are also trained to work in Russian, Arabic, English and French, so that they can confer their knowledge to residents from overseas.
IDF (Zahal) Home Front Command during an unconventional rocket attack drill
Some believe that these values are simply a concept we read in books about the army. Make no mistake: Ask IDF (Zahal) soldiers what the mission of the army is , and they will respond with a few simple words – “protect our country and our home.” In other words, to defend the state, its citizens and its residents.