Serving in the Israeli Defense Forces - The I.D.F.
Hebrew: שירות צבאי - צה"ל - Israeli defense force
Fore the most part new immigrants have no experience with serving in the Israeli defence force (armed forces) unless they served as volunteers. Stories of how out ancestors escaped conscription in the Russian army at the beginning of the 20th century are common to many Anglo families or your granddad might have been a WWII or Vietnam Vet. South African men were conscripted for up to 2 years and fought in Angola, but conscription came to an end in 1993. Most of us have heard stories about the strength and might of the Israeli Defense Forced (I.D.F.) or Tzahal as it is referred to - Tzva HaHagana LeYisrael - צה"ל. Young adults from the diaspora may have volunteered in the Israeli army for a short period in programs like Mahal or SarEl but your compulsory national service is quite another story, it's a huge and life-changing event.
How long will I have to serve in the Israeli defence force?
Most Israeli born boys spend 3 years in the armed forces and girls spend 2.
The length and type of your compulsory service is determined by the following factors: your age upon arrival in Israel, your medical profile, your marital status and if you have children.
Men over the age of 30 are exempt. Men, between ages 18 - 29 may be required to serve anywhere between 6 months and 36 months, depending on the factors mentioned above. Between the ages of 24 -29 your may also be eligible for exemption or only reserve duty. Again, this depends on the aforementioned factors. Your Aliyah organization and Lishkat Giyus - the conscription office - will help to determine your eligibility.
Unmarried women until the age of 20 are conscripted for 24 months. Married women in this age group are exempt. Women over the age of 20, married or not, are also exempt.
Are new immigrants eligible to serve in the IDF?
Yes, new immigrants are eligible for conscription after 12 months of being in Israel.
I am not an immigrant, do I have to serve?
Every permanent resident is required to serve in the IDF, irrespective of the fact that you may hold foreign citizenship. You will need to clarify the conditions of this issue with the embassy or consulate of your native country.
I have done army service in another country. Do I still have to serve in the Israeli defence force?
You will be given a reduction in the length of your service in the IDF if you have served in a foreign army. You will of course, have to provide proof. All these substantiating documents need to be translated into Hebrew and notarized.
My parents are Israeli citizens. I live abroad. Am I eligible to serve in the IDF?
Children of Israeli citizens are required to serve in the Israeli army if they return to Israel. The length and type of service is determined by the factors previously mentioned: age, marital status etc.
How will I be called-up?
You are required to register with the IDF within 6 months of receiving new immigrant status. This can be done via your local IDF induction center (lishkat giyus - לשכת גיוס. Once registered, you will receive a call-up notice in the mail.
While you may bring original documents with you, only hand in photocopies. Never, ever give anyone your original documents. This applies in all offices and situations where you are required to present documents. If you do, you will never see the original document again.
You might like these...
- Eran a lone soldier, read his story
- The night before induction
- What to bring from home
- Induction day
- Volunteer programs