(Israel Twitter)The Israel Defense Forces consists of the Israeli Army, Israeli Air Force and Israeli Navy. It was founded during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War by consolidating paramilitary organizations—chiefly the Haganah—that preceded the establishment of the state. The IDF also draws upon the resources of the Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman), which works with the Mossad and Shabak. The Israel Defense Forces have been involved in several major wars and border conflicts in its short history, making it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world.
The majority of Israelis are drafted into the military at the age of eighteen. Men serve three years and women serve two to three years. Following compulsory service, Israeli men join the reserve forces and do several weeks of reserve duty every year until their forties. Most women are exempt from reserve duty. Arab citizens of Israel (except the Druze) and those engaged in full-time religious studies are exempt from military service, although the exemption of yeshiva students has been a source of contention in Israeli society for many years. An alternative for those who receive exemptions on various grounds is Sherut Leumi, or national service, which involves a program of service in hospitals, schools and other social welfare frameworks. As a result of its conscription program, the IDF maintains approximately 168,000 active troops and an additional 408,000 reservists.
The nation's military relies heavily on high-tech weapons systems designed and manufactured in Israel as well as some foreign imports. The United States is a particularly notable foreign contributor; military aid to Israel is expected to increase by 6 billion over the next decade. US is expected to provide the country with $3.15 billion per year from 2013-2018. The Israeli- and U.S.-designed Arrow missile is one of the world's only operational anti-ballistic missile systems.
Since the Yom Kippur War, Israel has developed a network of reconnaissance satellites. The success of the Ofeq program has made Israel one of seven countries capable of launching such satellites. Since its establishment, Israel has spent a significant portion of its gross domestic product on defense. In 1984, for example, the country spent 24% of its GDP on defense. Today, that figure has dropped to 7.3%
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity toward its nuclear capabilities.
Since the Gulf War in 1991, when Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles, all homes in Israel are required to have a reinforced security room impermeable to chemical and biological substances.
The IDF has also been deployed on humanitarian missions. Usually involving rescue workers and medical personnel, along with relief workers and body identifiers from ZAKA and the Israel Police. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a rescue team was dispatched to Haiti, which consisted of 40 doctors, 20 nurses and rescue workers, and two rescue planes loaded with medical equipment and a field hospital with X-rays, intensive care units, and operating rooms.