The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (Hebrew: צבא ההגנה לישראל) is the name of the Israeli military, including the Israeli Army, Air Force and Sea Corps.
Their general mission is to "To defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life." The quality of the IDF has become a legend as a result of many specific missions such as the 1976 Entebbe rescue, the 1973 Operation Spring of Youth and the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel fought off for the second time the armies of all four of its immediate neighbors -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon—as well as that of Iraq and token commitments from other Arab states. Even leaving aside its nuclear weapons, the exact number and yield of which are unknown, Israel is definitely the world's best armed small country (its air force would give it an edge were it somehow to fight North Korea) and is orders of magnitude more capable in a military sense than any of its neighbors.
All citizens of Israel, male and female, except for the ultra-Orthodox and Muslim are obligated to serve a minimum of two years on active duty in the IDF upon graduating from high school and a number of years thereafter as reservists, meaning that Israel probably has the world's most thorough system of conscription. Career soldiers have gone on to lead the country more frequently than in the United States, such as the notable examples of Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon.
Recent engagements in Gaza
The most recent high-profile engagement of the IDF was in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict which was in part instigated by the murder of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. The IDF bombed parts of Gaza city. It is estimated to take 20 years to fully repair the damage incurred.
- Tucker, Spencer C., ed. The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict A Political, Social, and Military History (4 vol. 2008)