Israel is defended by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), a unified service.
There is a single rank structure to the IDF, and all ranks use the same
insignia and titles. They differ only by colour: Tzava (ground forces) -
bronze on olive; Cheylihayam (navy) - gold on navy blue; Cheylihaavir (Air
Force) - silver on sky blue.
Before the establishment of the State of Israel, a number of armed Jewish
defense organizations operated. In addition to the Haganah and Palmach, which
answered to the elected leadership of the Jewish national institutions, other
armed defense groups, namely the Lehi (Lohamei Herut Israel or 'fighters for
the Freedom of Israel') and the IZL (Irgun Zevai Le'ummi or 'National Military
Organization') operated independently. When the independence of the State of
Israel was declared the new, legal Government would decide to establish a
single, unified armed force loyal to the Government of the State of Israel:
The Israel Defense Forces formed on 28 May 1948.
The Chief of General Staff (Rosh Mattay Ha'Klali) has always come from the
Tzava and currently
holds the rank of Rav-Aluf (considered equivalent to a Lieutenant General,
though as the military head of the IDF, he is accorded "Chief of Staff" rank.
Generally only one officer holds the Rav-Aluf rank.
When the IDF was created, the senior rank was Aluf (Prince or Lion), then
considered a "Brigadier". When it was decided that more than one general
was needed, they created Rav- Aluf as the senior officer. In 1968 after
the six day war, Tat-Aluf was added below Aluf as the starting "General
The IDF is comprised of "land forces (Tzava), a navy (Cheylihayam)
and an air force (Cheylihaavir)". The English equivalents such as IAF for
Israeli Air Force are common. There have been major reorganizations in 1973
and 2001. The original enlisted structure was based on the British
(Commonwealth) army forces model and had very few ranks. In 1973, 5 more
enlisted ranks were added above the existing structure (effectively taking the
"American model"). go to Rank Insignia