Area Handbook for Israel

By Harvey H. Smith; Frederica M. Bunge et al. | Go to book overview

SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY

CHAPTER 26
THE ARMED FORCES

Israel has established itself as an effective military power in the Middle East. Only a small standing force is maintained, but a large, well-trained, and well-organized reserve can be mobilized rapidly and efficiently.

Popularly known as Zahal Zuq Ha-Haganah Le-Israel, the Israel Defense Forces were established by an ordinance of the Provisional Government of Israel on May 26, 1948; they are the first Jewish national forces in nearly 2,000 years. The army is organized into a number of full-strength combat brigades, with small cadres of regular personnel manning command and staff elements of reserve units to facilitate mobilization. A call-up of reserve forces could increase army strength as much as four or five times. The smallest navy and air force could also be expanded quickly, if required. The navy has several major combat vessels, and the air force has a large number of combat aircraft.

Zahal is a direct outgrowth of the Hagana (Irgan Ha-Haganah), the clandestine defense organization created during the period of the British Palestine Mandate (see ch. 3, Historical Setting). Hagana in turn has its antecedents in the Shomrim, or Guardsmen, who afforded protection to the earlier settlements. In the late 1870's, when Jews once more began to settle in Palestine, then under Ottoman rule, each village found it necessary to provide for its own self-defense. As immigration increased and settlements became more numerous, the activities of many of these local self-defense units were coordinated on an area basis. In 1907, following a large wave of immigration from Russia, the Shomrim were formed into a countrywide organization called Hashomer.

Immigration was further encouraged by the Balfour Declaration and the postwar transfer of Palestine to British administration under the Mandate. As a result of Arab disturbances in 1920 and 1921, Hagana was organized as a continuation of Jewish selfdefense measures, operated and trained secretly, and smuggled arms and ammunition into the country.

A semblance of legality for some operations of the Hagana fol-

-369-

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Area Handbook for Israel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • Contents xi
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT 13
  • Chapter 3 Historical Setting 29
  • Chapter 4 - POPULATION 55
  • Chapter 5 Ethnic Groups and Languages 67
  • Chapter 6 Social Structures 75
  • Chapter 7 Family 89
  • CHAPTER 8 - LIVING CONDITIONS 98
  • Chapter 9 - EDUCATION 113
  • Chapter 10 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL EXPRESSION 131
  • Chapter 12 - SOCIAL VALUES 153
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 163
  • Chapter 14 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS 187
  • Chapter 15 Foreign Relations 209
  • Chapter 16 - PUBLIC INFORMATION 221
  • Chapter 17 - POLITICAL VALUES AND ATTITUDES 239
  • Chapter 18 - BIOGRAPHIES OF SELECTED KEY PERSONALITIES 255
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 273
  • Chapter 20 Agriculture 285
  • Chapter 21 Industry 299
  • Chapter 22 Labor 311
  • Chapter 23 - DOMESTIC TRADE 333
  • Chapter 24 - FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS 345
  • Chapter 25 Financial and Monetary System 357
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 369
  • Chapter 27 - PUBLIC ORDER AND INTERNAL SECURITY 397
  • Index 447
  • PUBLISHED AREA HANDBOOKS 457
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