[[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, all won, except for the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which is up for debate (depending on whether you consider victory to be decided by kill ratio or objectives achieved). In terms of flying skills (as measured in tactical exercises vs American and {{NATO}} forces) the IDF has some of the best pilots in the world. This is also evidenced by their very good record against Arab aircraft, even if said aircraft are 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 of both sexes for all Jewish Citizens. This has resulted in the IDF gaining a reputation for hot [[TheSquadette female soldiers]], although many girls, particularly religious ones, fulfill this obligation by doing National Service, instead of serving in the Army. Many Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jews are excused from service in order to study at religious schools (there are some Ultra-Orthodox who do serve, and at least one military base designed specifically for their needs). This exemption is very controversial amongst secular Israelis, who feel the Haredim get a free pass, and there have been efforts to lift it (in addition to being considered unfair, it is also hoped that serving in the army would allow Haredi youth to learn practical skills and become more engaged in Israeli society as a whole. It is suspected that part of the resistance amongst the Haredi community is for exactly this reason). Israeli Druze also have to serve, as do male Circassians (a mostly Muslim Caucasian minority that moved to Israel after their homeland was invaded by Russia in the 19th century). Non-Druze Arabs are excused, although some do volunteer (largely Bedouins and Palestinian Christians).

Israel's principal military supplier until the early 1960s was France. The United States became Israel's major supplier after the Six Day War and remains so until the present day. However, over the decades Israel has developed its own defense industry, developing, among others, a number of local aircraft, an indigenously developed series of [[TankGoodness main battle tanks]] and [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier APCs]], several types of missile boats, various firearms, rocket and missile systems, combat related robots, electronic warfare systems and a wide range of [[AttackDrone UAVs]]. Despite this, what most people would probably say when asked what weapon was made in Israel, would probably be [[NeverLiveItDown "the Uzi"]].

Israel was also the first export customer for the F-15 Eagle and first to use it, as well as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, in combat. The Israeli air force is still responsible for over half the air to air kills for both fighters to this day.

Due to Israel's universal conscription, it is often assumed that all Israeli adults have military training, and are therefore combat capable. This is not entirely true, as Arabs (but not Druze or Circassians) are exempt from conscription, and previously so were ultra-Orthodox Jews (their exemption is in the process of being phased out due to Israeli courts ruling it unconstitutional), and usually do not serve. Also a non-negligible percentage of the population that does need to serve avoids it anyway. So not all Israelis have military training... just most of them. 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.

Officially Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons. [[OpenSecret Everyone is pretty sure they possess 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 very good at their job in general.

See also: ArabIsraeliConflict, UsefulNotes/TheSamsonOption.


!!Tropes include:

* [[AttackAttackAttack Attack! Attack! Attack!]]: This actually worked, albeit haphazardly, until 1973.
* AwesomePersonnelCarrier: The Merkava is this and a CoolTank at the same time.
* BadassArmy
* BadassIsraeli: The IDF is naturally a noted hangout of these.
* BerserkButton: Aqaba was this during the Six-day War.
* BreakOutTheMuseumPiece: Early on, Israel had almost no weapons to speak of, and were willing to take whatever they could get. One example is their use of WWII era M4 Sherman tanks throughout the Cold War. Despite being obsolete, the Israelis aggressively upgraded the Shermans to the point where they could engage (and even [[CurbstompBattle curbstomp]]!) Soviet Cold War era tanks.
* CatchPhrase: Several, some officially supported by IDF culture and some unofficial truisms emergent from the lower ranks:
-->"These orders were written in blood." [[note]]Tagline of many safety guideline lists[[/note]]
-->"Results - not excuses."
-->"Difficult in training - easy in battle."
-->"That's all we have, that's what we'll win with."
-->"Painted is new; wet is clean; piled-up is neat; bureks are festive." [[note]]An ironic paraphrase of the famous edict from NineteenEightyFour; the closest analogue in English is probably "To Seem, Rather Than To Be". Lampoons the dogmatic culture of bureaucratic appearances, and concurrent lack of focus on substance to go with it, endemic to the IDF when it's dealing with matters not immediately relevant to its ability to shoot at enemies.[[/note]]
-->"If it moves, salute it. If it doesn't move, pick it up. If you can't pick it up, paint it white."
-->"I was born crying; When I was drafted, I realized why."
-->"What doesn't work with smarts, will work with strength. What doesn't work with strength, will work with more strength."[[note]]A favorite motto of the armored corps.[[/note]]
-->"The man in the tank will win."[[note]]Armored corps[[/note]]
--->"The man in the '''missile''' will win."[[note]]One of many parodized sayings and symbols in the animated series Mk. 22, where the protagonists are quartermasters at an Israeli nuclear missile facility.[[/note]]
-->"When you see a sniper, don't run - you'll die tired."
-->"If I don't get to fly, NO ONE gets to fly." [[note]]Unofficial motto of the anti-aircraft unit, allegedly full of would-be pilots who dropped out[[/note]]
* CoolPlane: One of the best airforces in the world. And it's not just because they have cool planes. Check out the story of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Negev_mid-air_collision Ziv]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LveSc8Lp0ZE Nedivi]].
* CoolTank: Israelis love these.
* {{Conscription}}: This allows Israel to punch [[PintSizedPowerhouse above its weight]] in numbers. Its effects on Israel in peace are debatable. While military experience helps with problem-solving and taking initiative, it also has difficulty translating to civilian management.
* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Fairly common due to historically being on the wrong side of numerical odds:
** War of Independence[[labelnote:Arab Name]]The Catastrophe[[/labelnote]]: On the day after Israel was created, Yishuv/IDF forces fended off an invasion by all of Israel's Arab neighbors and then some.
** Six Day War[[labelnote:Arab Name]]The Setback[[/labelnote]]: The IDF launched a preemptive attack destroying most of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground. [[CurbStompBattle They then soundly defeated their Arab adversaries]].
** Yom-Kippur War[[labelnote:Arab Name]]October War[[/labelnote]]: On Yom-Kippur[[note]]A Jewish holiday[[/note]], during the month of Ramadan[[note]]A Muslim holiday[[/note]], Egypt and Syria coordinated a surprise attack on Israel. After several [[AttackAttackAttack ill-advised counterattacks into the teeth of entrenched Arab forces]], the IDF routed Arab forces until [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar the United States and Soviet Union]] stepped in to broker a cease-fire.
** Raid on Entebbe: A 1976 hostage rescue in Uganda, special enough to feature Charles Bronson in a fairly accurate film about it.
** Operation Opera: A 1981 airstrike carried out against the [[UsefulNotes/{{Iraq}} Iraqi ''Osirak'' nuclear reactor]], flying 14 aircraft nearly a thousand miles over Arab territory to strike a target just outside of Baghdad.[[note]]While there is controversy over whether the reactor was part of a weapons program or not, the strike certainly delayed a potential weapons program by at least 20 years. When American troops investigated the site during Desert Storm, they found that "the Israelis did most of our work for us."[[/note]]
* CrowningMomentOfFunny: Several soldiers on patrol being hit with a surprise attack of KeSha music... [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVVte550dyU#t=0m44s and dancing to it]].
* CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming: After the Battle of Ismailia in the 1973 war and the announcement of the armistice, the Israelis got to know the [[EgyptiansWithEagleFighters Egyptian commandos]] they had been fighting. Soon, the Egyptians and Israelis would meet daily, drinking coffee, playing backgammon and soccer, [[NotSoDifferent getting to personally know each other]].
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: The Israeli national anthem, ''Hatikvah'', which means "the hope", though [[TearJerker not]] [[BittersweetEnding all]] [[WarIshell agree]].
* CurbStompBattle: The Six Day War proved to be one of the most one-sided wars in history.
* DeathFromAbove: Famously decisive during the Six Day War. Israeli preemptive airstrikes gained them air supremacy over the Arab powers for the entire war. On the first day of the 1982 Lebanon War, the IDF destroyed scores of Syrian aircraft and missile batteries with zero losses.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Attack Israeli targets, and Mossad's kidon unit will hunt you down and kill you [[RefugeInAudacity anywhere on earth.]]
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: Yoni Netanyahu at Entebbe.
* DeterminedHomesteader: Kibbutzim
* EagleSquadron: The Jewish Brigade in WorldWarII serving in the British Army (this only partially counts as Britain was their FeudalOverlord at the time. But it was recruited in that spirit.). Also a number of foreigners during the '48 war.
* EliteArmy: They certainly seem like one, given the incredibly lopsided casualty ratios of the conflicts they get involved in.
* EnemyMine: They had a briefly cooperated with Iran during the UsefulNotes/IranIraqWar, providing military advisers, money, and weapons, as well as bombing an Iraqi nuclear reactor during [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera Operation Opera]], mostly because they really hated SaddamHussein. This was in contrast to their ally the United States, who regarded Iran as the bigger threat.
* EyepatchOfPower: Moshe Dayan
* FatalFlaw: Due to Israel being small, the IDF was, for a great period of time, [[AttackAttackAttack infallibly aggressive]]. This has historically been at the cost of:
** [[BoringButPractical Logistics]], leading to the near-failure of the Sinai counter-offensive in the Six-Day War due to almost all the Israeli tanks running out of fuel.
** [[AttackAttackAttack Common Sense]], which led to half the Israeli armored force dashing itself to shreds against Egyptian anti-tank defenses in October of 1973 before Ariel Sharon wised up.
* FauxActionGirl: The great majority of female soldiers in the IDF, who serve in non-combat divisions.
* FightingForAHomeland
* FeudalOverlord: TheBritishEmpire. Israel was a working nation long before official independence. This is one reason it survived the '48 war. However it was officially a dependent on TheBritishEmpire.
* ImprovisedWeapon: The Haganah used to make bullets out of lipstick tubes.
** Actually, they created bullets in secret and pretending that they were lipstick tubes. The real thing wouldn't make a very good bullet. They also hid weapons inside of milk cans and explosives in gas tanks of trucks to hide them from the Brits.
* InitiationCeremony: For most units, basic training concludes with a long march to a historically or otherwise significant site (depending on the unit, usually Masada or the Western Wall) to be sworn into the IDF and receive their corps berets.
** These are actually two different ceremonies; there's the Swearing-In, towards the beginning of basic training, which usually takes place at Masada or the Western Wall, and then there's the Beret Ceremony, marking the end of basic training, which takes place at any one of a number of different locations, depending on the unit.
* {{Irony}}: Due to their almost single-minded emphasis on individual initiative, rapid victories, and maneuver warfare, the IDF best resembles the operational doctrine of the [[UsefulNotes/NazisWithGnarlyWeapons Wehrmacht]].
** For an additional layer, IDF infantry were originally armed largely with surplus weapons seized from Nazi stockpiles. They acquired weapons from absolutely anywhere they could find them, and there was was no larger source of weapons in the world than the now-disbanded Wehrmacht's stockpiles. Some even still had swastika designs engraved or enamelled on (the first thing IDF men did was scratch them out with rocks)
*** The first ever fighter aircraft acquired by Israel? The Messerschmitt Bf109.
** Who provided Israel with heavy water to boost their nuclear power - and eventually making them capable of making their own bombs? {{UsefulNotes/Norway}}, of all nations...
** Even the name of the page itself for most of the IAFs history is ironic. Many Israeli pilots actually HATED missiles, and often refereed to them as 'drop tanks' [[note]] Due to the fact that sometimes the missile would just drop off the plane, much the same way an external fuel tank would, thus being completely useless.[[/note]], and preferred mixing it up in the merge with enemy fighters. One can't argue with the results however. Of the 105 kills the [[CoolPlane F-15 Eagle]] has to its name, roughly half are credited to IAF Pilots. On top of this, the IAF is the ''ONLY'' Air Force that has used the F-15s [[GattlingGood 20mm Vulcan]] in a dogfight. [[note]] Everyone else has either used the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the AIM-7 Sparrow, or the AIM-120 AMRAAM, or their equivalents.[[/note]]
* MemeticMutation: When a squad of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVVte550dyU IDF soldiers broke out into Kesha Dance]] in Hebron.
* MightyGlacier: The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDF_Caterpillar_D9 armored D9 bulldozer]] is a 65-ton behemoth that will slowly but surely raze anything to the ground, and can endure attacks that would destroy most other vehicles.
* TheMigration
* MildlyMilitary: Ironically for a force so reputed, the IDF has historically been lax on discipline, even touting it as something that lesser armies need. This has, on occasion, bitten the IDF in the ass.
** In particular, the Golani Brigade is known for both its fighting prowess and its discipline problems.
* OneManArmy: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zvika_Greengold Zvika Greengold]].
* OpenSecret: [[TheRestOfTheNuclearClub Israel's nukes]]. They haven't ''officially'' revealed them yet, but when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accidentally (or perhaps accidentally on purpose) said (or at least implied with barely less subtlety than actually setting off one of the nukes) that Israel had nukes in a speech in 2006, the world barely noticed. Of course, there isn't much reason to keep a nuclear arsenal secret--the main point of having it is intimidating the other side not to attack, something a [[DrStrangelove secret doomsday device]] isn't so good at. The reason for Israel going this route is strategic. Israel's potential regional enemies (e.g. Iran, Iraq, Egypt[[note]]We should note here that Egypt was never particularly serious about developing a bomb, whatever TomLehrer might say. And that whole "regime change" makes Iraq highly unlikely to try again any time soon.[[/note]]) know it has nukes, and are thus deterred from military action that would threaten Israel's existence. They can't acquire their own nukes because they're parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which forbids owning any (except for the US, Soviet Union/Russia, China, the UK and France) and subjects them to IAEA inspections. And they can't withdraw from the NPT without an "imminent threat" to their security (such as a nearby rival having nukes already), which officially doesn't exist because Israel officially refuses to confirm anything.[[note]]In theory, at least. In practice, any nation can unilaterally withdraw from a treaty at any time. But doing so with the NPT would be such a diplomatic nightmare (and very likely a trigger to war) that not even Iran in its increasingly defiant nationalism has shown any willingness to risk it.[[/note]] In other words, it's an endless cycle of IKnowYouKnowIKnow and WillfulBlindness on both sides. This serves the interests of both Arabs and Israelis: the Israelis get their security and their neighbors get a good reason not to fight Israel and also keep the Middle East a nominal nuclear-weapons-free zone; the ambiguity also spares the regional powers the expense of developing their own weapons programs. (Israel's interest, by the way, does ''not'' include the fear of IAEA inspections, as many Israelis claim; Israel is ''not'' a party to the NPT and unlikely to become one in the foreseeable future, so it's not subject to inspections, and declaring its stockpile would have no effect on that--any Israeli politician mentioning inspections is just trying to scare you.)
* PintSizedPowerhouse: Israel has a smaller territory and population then several states in the area, and it is probably the most feared.
** In this case, "smaller territory" works out to "about 200 miles long, and about one third of that at its widest."
* ProudWarriorRace: This actually goes all the way back to the ancient Hebrews, who were renowned as warriors.
* RefugeInAudacity: The IDF has, I shit you not, designed a gun which consists of a rifle with a stuffed cat on the end of it. The entire purpose is to cause the enemy to hesitate in firing at a "cat", thus giving the Israeli time to get a few shots of their own in.
** Like most similarly [[AwesomeButImpractical crazy/idiotic ideas devised by armies through history]], it (sadly?) didn't see much use in actual combat, ever.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherbourg_Project Operation Noa]]. Israel paid France to build a set of missile boats, and then France imposed an arms embargo and refused to deliver the goods. So over the course of several weeks, all the people necessary to man the boats went to Europe in ones and twos, making their way to Cherbourg while in the guise of tourists. They even bought the supplies necessary for eight days of sea travel at local grocery stores. Then, on Christmas Eve, they simply walked in and stole the boats.
* TheScrounger: On one notable occasion, one Haganah agent was negotiating with a Czech ArmsDealer. To get the money needed he had to collect it from private contributions, doing things like walking into the local Jewish quarter and drumming up money.
* StormingTheCastle: Entebbe
** The attack on the fortified Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
* TookALevelInBadass: Twice. Once when the Haganah learned to hunt down Arab guerrillas during the Arab revolt against the British (One British writer said: "They discovered that they were soldiers."). And in the Six-Day War when they surprised everyone by how much they had changed from the [[MildlyMilitary Militia]] they once were.
* TrainingThePeacefulVillagers: The British Officer Orde Wingate did this for the Haganah militia. Including a 20-year-old Ruth Westheimer, trained as a sniper and wounded in the '48 war. "Pint-Sized Powerhouse", indeed.
* TriggerHappy: Understandably so - they are surrounded on all sides by nations that are not only hostile but want to end Israel's existence. Then there are the Palestinian terrorists, who operate from urban areas.
* UnderestimatingBadassery: Many of the Arabs during the '48 thought it was going to be an easy victory. The [[WarriorsOfTheDesertWind Jordanians]] who lived next to them knew differently.
* UpThroughTheRanks: The majority of the Israeli officer corps qualifies, since they have no officer candidate schools.
* WorthyOpponent: The [[WarriorsOfTheDesertWind Jordanian Arab Legion]], the only Arab military that consistently held its own against the IDF. The West Bank would probably still be Jordanian if the IAF hadn't destroyed almost the entire Royal Jordanian Air Force in the first day of the Six-Day War, granting the IDF the advantage of air support.
** Sadat's Egyptian army which reversed some Israeli gains from the Six-Day War. To those few who paid attention, [[SubvertedTrope this isn't quite so]]; Sadat's army bloodied Israel's elite tank units badly, but by the end of combat (enforced by [[ColdWar the U.S. and U.S.S.R. not wanting to ruin detente over Israel]]), the Egyptians were either encircled or on the run.
** [[NGOSuperpower Hezbollah]] managed to survive the 2006 Lebanon War, due in large part to its [[EliteMooks well-trained paramilitaries]] and [[MacrossMissileMassacre massive arsenal of rockets]].
* YouShallNotPass: The Seventh Armored Brigade on the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War. In particular, one guy - [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zvika_Greengold Zvika Greengold]].
** Although it was Avigdor "Yanosh" Ben-Gal who actually uttered almost the exact phrase during the battle. Ben-Gal was the commander of the 7th armored brigade, which by October 9th was down to 17 Centurion tanks and was under attack by the Syrian 7th ''division'', which had over a thousand T-62 tanks and a comparable numbers of [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier APC's]] and artillery pieces. Ben-Gal told his men, "They will not pass through. The fate of Israel rests on your shoulders. They will not pass." Even though the 7th brigade lost another ten tanks by nightfall, they managed to hold on, and Ben-Gal was made a general after the war.
* YouWouldntLikeMeWhenImAngry: Being an IronWoobie for 2000 years does get rather tiresome.

!!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]].