IDF - Israel Defense Forces (Tzahal - "Tzva Hagana Leyisrael"). The abbreviation of the official name of the Israeli Army. IDF was formed in 1948 from the Haganah and other former underground groups. The IDF comprises the ground forces, the air force (IAF) the Israel Navy (IN) military intelligence (AMAN), as well as elite commando units such as Sayeret Matkal. the air force's Shaldag and the Navy's Shayetet 13 commandos. The IDF was originally built around a number of small combat brigades (Hativot): The Nachal brigade, the Golani Brigade and the Givati Brigade and a number of other brigades. Golani, Givati and the paratroopers have their own commando units, and several divisions have grown around the brigade formations of 1948.
The IDF is a citizens' army based on universal conscription and a very large reserve force as well as voluntarism and a small core of regular non-commissioned and commissioned officers. By law, every Jewish citizen is subject to conscription at age 18. Men serve for about three years and do additional reserve duty, and women serve for about two years.
Some women volunteer for combat duty. Members of non-Jewish minorities, including city Arabs, have served with distinction. An Arab woman currently serves in unit 669, an elite medical evacuation unit. ref and another has volunteered for combat duty. ref
Women may be excused if they claim they are religious or if they are married. Ultraorthodox Yeshiva students are excused from duty under the Tal law. Precise figures are secret, but the regular army probably numbers under 200,000, and the reserves may add an additional half million. ref
Service in all combat units is voluntary, but all such units are always over-subscribed and turn away applicants.
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.
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