Hebrew Language Blog

Today’s Israel: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Learning Hebrew


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; Hebrew: צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל – Arabic: جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي‎) were founded following the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 and the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the army, air force, and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces. The IDF is headed by its Chief of General Staff, the Ramatkal, subordinate to the Defense Minister of Israel; Rav Aluf Benny Gantz has served as Chief of Staff since 2011.

The IDF differs from most armed forces in the world in many ways. These differences include the mandatory conscription of women, and the institution’s structure emphasizes close relations between the army, navy, and air force. Since its founding, the IDF has been one of the country’s influencing the country’s economy, culture and political scene. But it doesn’t stop there, the IDF was also awarded the Israel Prize for its contribution to education.

Serving in the IDF


National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although Arab (but not Druze) citizens are exempted if they so please, and other exceptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds. The Tal law, which exempts ultra-orthodox Jews from service, has been the subject of several court cases as well as considerable legislative controversy.

Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two. The IDF women who volunteer for several combat positions often serve for three years, due to the longer period of training. Women in other positions, such as programmers, who also require lengthy training time, may also serve three years. Women in most combat positions are also required to serve in the reserve for several years after they leave regular service.

Permanent service is designed for soldiers who choose to continue serving in the army after their regular service, for a short or long period, and in many cases making the military their career. Permanent service usually begins immediately after the mandatory Regular service period, but there are also soldiers who get released from military at the end of the mandatory Regular service period and who get recruited back to the military as Permanent service soldiers in a later period.

Vocabulary and Phrases

he served – שרת

military services – צָבָא

branch of service – חַיִל

draft notice – צַו גִּיּוּס

soldier (masc) – חַיָּל

soldier (fem) – חַיָּלֶת

I’ve been serving in the army a year already – אני משרת בצבא כור שנה.

In which branch are you serving? – באיזה חיל אתה משרת?

She’s waiting for her draft notice – היא מחכה לצו גיוס.

He’s a soldier – הוא חייל

She’s a soldier – היא חייל

He’s serving in the navy – הוא משרת בחיל הים

He’s serving in the army – הוא משרת בחיל היבשה

IDF Homepage: http://www.idf.il/english

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About the Author: Sean Young

Learning languages since 1978 and studying over 50 (achieving fluency in 10). Sean L. Young loves giving tips, advice and the secrets you need to learn a language successfully no matter what language you're learning. Currently studying Hindi and blogging his progress right here at Transparent Language - https://blogs.transparent.com/language-news.


  1. jacob:

    Very short and straight forward review about the IDF. I also admire them especially on the 70s and 80s with their war with syria/neighboring arab states.

  2. Cristina Ungstad Yu:

    Great post. Quick question – is there a typographical error here?

    He’s a soldier – הוא חייל

    She’s a soldier – היא חייל