TIME Middle East

The History of Israel’s Powerful Military

Since 1948, the Israel Defense Forces has been the country's only line of defense. The men and women who make up the IDF are some of the most well-trained combatants in the world. Here's a look at Israel’s highly effective and sometimes controversial military

The men and women who make up the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are some of the most highly trained in the world. By land, air, and sea, the IDF’s major objective is to protect the state of Israel.

The IDF was founded in May 1948 by Israel’s then Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion. A conscript force, it helped Israel win the 1948 Arab-Israeli war known there as the “War of Independence.”

The army’s public face has changed greatly in the decades since then. Today, the IDF’s social media presence is huge. They have more than 300,000 Twitter followers and an active Instagram page updated with politically charged memes and photos.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser