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The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

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The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces - Introduction

Allegations of human rights violations by Israel and the Israel Defense forces must be viewed in the light of the IDF ethical code.

Some of the most relevant parts of this code:

The IDF is subordinate to the directions of the democratic civilian authorities and the laws of the state.

The values - The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.

Credibility - The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks.

Purity of Arms - The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.

The above are certainly unique in a region where military coups are the rule, where suicide bombers and terrorists aim to inflict the maximum numbers of civilian casualties, imaginary victories are announced every war and imaginary "massacres" are staged as propaganda ploys.

In a way it is unfortunate, because the result is that Israel is judged by a different standard than any other country in the Middle East, and the IDF is judged by a standard that is not applied to any other army in the Middle East. It is simply unthinkable, for example, that the Hezbollah or the Hamas would apologize for civilian casualties, or initiate legal proceedings against one of their members for mistreating enemy soldiers or civilians. However, this "double standard" and the internal criticism of the IDF are assets that are essential to the survival of Israel. Without them, the IDF would be a mob of gangsters like the "liberation organizations" of our neighbors, and the state could degenerate into the chaos of Lebanon or Iraq, or the tyranny of Syria or Iran.

As Zionists, we must understand that this code is our strength and not our weakness. As the experience of the Arabs of Palestine, and those of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Lebanon has shown, terror, lawlessness and unethical behavior cannot be contained or directed. Once sanctioned, they will erode and destroy the fabric of society. Military coup will follow military coup, assassination will follow assassination, explosions and terrorism that were visited on enemies will come back to blow up in mosques and churches and homes in the backyards of every such country. Those who put themselves above the state, who call on soldiers to refuse lawful orders, are traitors and not patriots. Soldiers who harm enemy civilians or soldiers unnecessarily are only committing war crimes. They are committing crimes against their own state.  

In civilized societies, war and violence are not admirable ideals, but necessary evils. Left uncontrolled, they generate violence that can destroy a society.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright

Links to this page are most welcome. The above introduction is copyright 2007 by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The document below is in the public domain.

 

The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces

 

The IDF Spirit

 
The Israel Defense Forces are the state of Israel’s military force. The IDF is subordinate to the directions of the democratic civilian authorities and the laws of the state. The goal of the IDF is to protect the existence of the State of Israel and her independence, and to thwart all enemy efforts to disrupt the normal way of life in Israel. IDF soldiers are obligated to fight, to dedicate all their strength and even sacrifice their lives in order to protect the State of Israel, her citizens and residents. IDF soldiers will operate according to the IDF values and orders, while adhering to the laws of the state and norms of human dignity, and honoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state
 

Spirit of the IDF-Definition and Origins

 
The Spirit of the IDF is the identity card of the IDF values, which should stand as the foundation of all of the activities of every IDF soldier, on regular or reserve duty. The Spirit of the IDF and the guidelines of operation resulting from it are the ethical code of the IDF. The Spirit of the IDF will be applied by the IDF, its soldiers, its officers, its units and corps to shape their mode of action. They will behave, educate and evaluate themselves and others according to the Spirit of the IDF.
 
The Spirit of the IDF draws on four sources:

The tradition of the IDF and its military heritage as the Israel Defense Forces.

The tradition of the State of Israel, its democratic principles, laws and institutions.

The tradition of the Jewish People throughout their history.

Universal moral values based on the value and dignity of human life.

 
Basic Values:
 
Defense of the State, its Citizens and its Residents - The IDF’s goal is to defend the existence of the State of Israel, its independence and the security of the citizens and residents of the state.
Love of the Homeland and Loyalty to the Country - At the core of service in the IDF stand the love of the homeland and the commitment and devotion to the State of Israel-a democratic state that serves as a national home for the Jewish People-its citizens and residents.�
Human Dignity - The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.

The Values: - The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position.

Tenacity of Purpose in Performing Missions and Drive to Victory - The IDF servicemen and women will fight and conduct themselves with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; They will persevere in their missions resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering their lives.

Responsibility - The IDF serviceman or woman will see themselves as active participants in the defense of the state, its citizens and residents. They will carry out their duties at all times with initiative, involvement and diligence with common sense and within the framework of their authority, while prepared to bear responsibility for their conduct.

Credibility - The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks.

Personal Example - The IDF servicemen and women will comport themselves as required of them, and will demand of themselves as they demand of others, out of recognition of their ability and responsibility within the military and without to serve as a deserving role model.

Human Life - The IDF servicemen and women will act in a judicious and safe manner in all they do, out of recognition of the supreme value of human life. During combat they will endanger themselves and their comrades only to the extent required to carry out their mission.

Purity of Arms - The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.

Professionalism - The IDF servicemen and women will acquire the professional knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks, and will implement them while striving continuously to perfect their personal and collective achievements.

Discipline - The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders.

Comradeship - The IDF servicemen and women will act out of fraternity and devotion to their comrades, and will always go to their assistance when they need their help or depend on them, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking their lives.

Sense of Mission - The IDF soldiers view their service in the IDF as a mission; They will be ready to give their all in order to defend the state, its citizens and residents. This is due to the fact that they are representatives of the IDF who act on the basis and in the framework of the authority given to them in accordance with IDF orders.

Source: http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/about/doctrine/ethics.htm

This document is at Zionism and Israel Information Center - Historical Documents and References

General History of Zionism - Zionism and the Creation of Israel

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IDF ETHICAL CODE