[[caption-width-right:250:The Merkava Mk.4. CoolTank and AwesomePersonnelCarrier rolled into one. And yes, it can shoot missiles too.]]
->''"[[BadassBoast Masada shall not fall again.]]"''
-->'''Lieutenant General Moshe Dayan'''

צבא הגנה לישראל ''Tzva Haganah [=LeYisra'el=]'',[[note]]Literally, "The Defense Army for Israel"[[/note]] known in English as the Israel Defense Forces, or ''Tzahal'' (from its Hebrew acronym) to its friends. Formed in 1948 from the various [[LaResistance factions]] of the time, involved in at least one war per decade, usually against numerically superior Arab forces. In terms of flying skills (as measured in tactical exercises vs American and UsefulNotes/{{NATO}} forces) the IDF has some of the best pilots in the world. This is also evidenced by their excellent record against Arab aircraft, although said aircraft are typically downgraded export versions of Soviet stuff--though for most of the wars, Israel's aircraft was even worse. (Israel is partly able to make up for it with superior mobilization, this can be considered a real life example of ConservationOfNinjutsu). As a result, if you're looking for an AcePilot post WWII, Israel (or Pakistan) should be the first place you check.

The State of Israel uses universal conscription for all Jewish citizens. This has resulted in the IDF gaining a reputation for hot [[TheSquadette female soldiers]], although many women, particularly religious ones, fulfill this obligation by doing national service instead of joining the armed forces. It's also important to note that most of the IDF's personnel are non-combat soldiers that have only a very basic combat training, dispelling the popular perception that the entire Israeli population is combat-ready.

Until 2014, many Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) were excused from service in order to study at religious schools. This was extremely controversial among secular Israelis, who objected to the Haredim getting a free pass, and there have been significant efforts to combat it. These culminated in the passing of a bill according to which their exemption was ruled unconstitutional, and will be phased out over time. Israeli Druze must also serve, as well as male Circassians (a mostly Muslim minority from the Caucasus, who moved to Israel after their homeland was invaded by Russia in the 19th century). Non-Druze Arabs are excused, although some volunteer (largely Bedouins and Palestinian Christians).

Israel's principal military supplier until the early 1960s was France. This began to change in the wake of the Six Day War (1967), as the United States increased their dealings with Israel, becoming the nation's top supplier of military aid. Since 1962, Israel has received nearly $100 billion is US military aid, a sum roughly equivalent to 3% of its GDP during that period. This proved extremely valuable to the country's nascent arms industry, which has since flourished, developing a number of local aircraft, a series of [[TankGoodness tanks]] and APCs, several types of missile boat, various firearms, rocket and missile systems, combat-related robots, electronic warfare systems and a wide range of [[AttackDrone UAVs]]. Despite this, the [[NeverLiveItDown "Uzi"]] remains the best-known weapon developed in Israel.

Although the IDF has achieved international fame for its state-of-the-art equipment, and its many notable military victories, it has a history of controversy over issues of discipline. A number of units - the elite Golani Brigade, for example - have been known to place ''esprit de corps'' ahead of strict adherence to protocol, sometimes leading to incidents of insubordination, or violent behavior against civilians.

Officially Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons. [[OpenSecret Everyone is pretty sure they've got them anyway.]]

Related to this is the Israeli intelligence service. The Mossad (the Israeli counterpart to the CIA) is infamous for carrying out assassinations, as well as being extremely efficient in their work.

See also: ArabIsraeliConflict, UsefulNotes/TheSamsonOption.

!!The IDF in fiction:

* Herman Wouk's novels ''The Hope'' and ''The Glory''
* ''Mirage'' by James Follett, a spy thriller detailing exactly * how* the Israelis managed to get the Mirage aircraft from the French.
* ''{{Spooks}}'' [[spoiler: Accidentally kills about 70 kids in a Gaza school]]
* ''Eagle in the Sky''- A WilburSmith novel that features a South African join the IDF, then get thrown out after chasing Syrian fighters into Syria, losing his wingman and getting disfigured in the process.
* ''Film/IndependenceDay'' - In an interesting example of... optimism... Israeli and Syrian pilots hide aircraft in the Golan heights and launch a combined attack on the alien fleet after the American example.
* ''Operation Yonatan''
* ''Literature/TheZombieSurvivalGuide'': An Israeli paratrooper platoon stops a zombie outbreak in an Egyptian village in the 70's. Trading zombies as biological weapons leads to the Egypt-Israel detente.
** ''Literature/WorldWarZ'', from the same Verse; the IDF ends up enforcing a voluntary quarantine of the country after the Outbreaks begin, and has to fight a civil war with the ultra-orthodox as a result of this and other security and practical measures.
* ''Yossi & Jagger''
* ''Animation/WaltzWithBashir'' is a complete deconstruction of this trope.
* ''ComicBook/YTheLastMan'': Being the only people in the region to employ female soldiers puts Israel in a strong position when all the men die. IDF leader Alter becomes a major antagonist in the series.
* ''Tom Clancy's Endwar'': Israel is officially neutral in World War III, but very, very quietly aids and supports the European Federation.
* Creator/TomClancy's ''Literature/TheSumOfAllFears'' opens during the Yom Kippur War, where a nuclear armed IDF aircraft is lost in action, providing the MacGuffin for the plot. In modern times, as part of the peace agreement the US Army's 11th Cavalry is stationed in Israel, and as part of their training plays wargames against the IDF.
* While not precisely a member of the IDF, Earth Force Colonel Ari Ben-Zayn (a one-shot character) from ''Series/BabylonFive'' plays on all the tropes about the suspicion and toughness of Israeli soldiers--and has a massive scar to show for it. Ben-Zayn loosely translates to "Son of a Gun", and is also slang for [[spoiler:dick]], so that makes it a BilingualBonus with several layers.
* YouDontMessWithTheZohan parodies this trope to no end with Zohan (Not an Israeli name) Dvir (An Israeli name), a supersoldier who can do push ups with no hands, kick two people at the same time, leap over walls, run on ceilings, and feel no pain from a piranha in the swim-suit. He has a Palestinian equivalent called the Fantom, too.
* The IDF is a playable faction in the ''[[VideoGame/{{Battlefield}} Battlefield 2]]'' mod ''ProjectReality''.
* The "all Israelis have military training" is invoked in ''Vortex'' by Larry Bond and Patrick Larkin. In order to take out South Africa's nuclear arsenal, the US military enlists the aid of an Israeli professor who helped the South Africans develop said arsenal. The original plan called for the professor to train the American commandos in disarming nuclear warheads. When developments force the op to launch ahead of schedule, the American commander decides to take advantage of the professor's military training (he was an infantryman) and have him come along. The thinking is that even if he's just an infantryman, he'll be able to handle himself on a battlefield.
* Ziva David from NCIS was a Mossad kidon operative.
* In ''How to Ruin'' series by Simone Elkeles, Amy spends a summer in Israel and meets a guy named Avi, who is in the military there. In the third book in the series, she follows him back to Israel and signs up for military training.
* Mentioned briefly in ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' by Ibraha, who calls them "Those monsters from Jerusalem!". Unfortunately, they're never actually seen.
* Like with most world militaries, the IDF makes an appearance in ''TheSalvationWar''. However, they are not shown in the [[TriggerHappy kindest]] [[IdiotBall of lights]].
* The IDF appear as a counter-terrorist faction in [[VideoGame/CounterStrike Counter Strike: Global Offensive]].
* ''Jane's IAF: Israeli Air Force'' is an aerial combat simulator featuring both historical scenarios, like the 1982 Lebanon War, and hypothetical conflicts as campaigns available for the player.
* Music/{{Sabaton}} has the song [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_N7PSkwUmA Counterstrike]], which is about the [[UsefulNotes/ArabIsraeliConflict Six-Day War]].