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Government, Defense

unified command, reserve duty, Israel Defense Forces, Knesset, reserve forces

Founded in 1948, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acts as a unified command over all of Israelís air, land, and sea forces. In 2001 Israel maintained a standing army of 163,500 with an additional 430,000 in reserve forces. Most Israelis are inducted into the army at age 18. Jewish and Druze men serve for three years, and unmarried Jewish women serve for 21 months. Men continue in reserve duty until age 55 for up to 45 days a year (or longer in the event of emergency). Women are rarely called for reserve duty, but technically, unmarried women may be called until age 50. Arabs are exempt but may serve voluntarily. By an agreement dating from the late 1940s, Israelís minister of defense could grant religious Jews exemptions from military service. However, in December 1998 the Supreme Court ruled that this agreement was illegal and instructed the Knesset to pass legislation to regularize the situation within one year. A government-appointed chief of staff heads the IDF and is responsible to the cabinet minister of defense. Although the IDF as an institution has no formal or informal role in the political process, retired senior officers have become significant political figures.

Article key phrases:

unified command, reserve duty, Israel Defense Forces, Knesset, reserve forces, standing army, IDF, unmarried women, Arabs, political process, Supreme Court, military service, Israelis, institution, acts, situation, legislation, land, agreement, days, months, age, years


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