The Defense Ministry and the IDF (Israeli army)
The Ministry of Defense is the political branch for state security in Israel and the Israeli army (the IDF or Israeli Defence Force) is its military wing.
The two branches work in close cooperation in order to tackle the various dangers in the best possible way.
The division of power between the two is quite clear. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the economic aspect of security: commercial, financial management, payments, industry and infrastructure policy, as well as logistics. The IDF is responsible for all operational and technical requirements as well as allocation of budgets.
The IDF, or the Israeli army, is responsible for the security of all its citizens and the borders, all in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense. Every Israeli citizen over the age of 18 has the obligation to enlist in military service for a certain period. The army is compulsory for boys and girls. Nowadays there is full equality in the ranks and roles for both sexes within the IDF.
There are three types of military service: compulsory military service, career service, where a soldier continues to serve in the army and the reserves, where soldiers are called up for active duty for one month every year for security activities or training. There is also compulsory service within The Border Police, which is not part of the IDF.
- The military court
The military court in Israel is a criminal court, but it only handles the crimes of soldiers or civilians working for the army, according to the military justice law. No disciplinary offense is treated by a military court. The defendant may choose to be represented by a civilian lawyer not belonging to the army, provided he is certified by a special commission.
- Metsah (Military Police)
Metsah, the military police, is the one that investigates the crimes committed by soldiers or civilians working for the army. Once the investigation is complete the results are reported by them to the military prosecutor.
- Military Disciplinary Law
The military disciplinary law is not a criminal court, it is an informal process that treats offenses against the military rules, laws and regulations committed by soldiers or civilians working for the army. It does not address the serious offenses as a military court does.
- IDF Soldiers
All Israeli teenagers, boys and girls, must join the army at the age of 18 for compulsory service that lasts several years. All eligible youngsters for military service receive their first call at home a few months before the age of 18 with an explanation of the options that they can choose from and the date for the examinations at the recruitment office. Each soldier receives his profile after having passed the medical exams. The highest profile is 97, the profiles descend depending on the health status of the soldiers. 64 is the limit to be a fighter in a fighting unit, below that the soldiers are redirected to other functions or at the rear, except in special cases. It is possible to postpone military service, for example because of university studies.
- Profile 21
Those with a 21 profile or less are unfit for military service for health or psychological reasons, but they still can volunteer for certain positions.
- Exemption from military service
There are several reasons for exemption from military service in Israel, for example, those who have emigrated abroad before the age of 16, for health reasons, those who have a low profile, conscientious objectors (rare), due to marital or family status, religious Druze and Bedouins and Arabs. For women they can be exempted because of marriage, pregnancy, parental role, and religious conviction.
The desertion from the army is when a soldier is absent or leaves the army or his unit without the intention of returning to them. When a soldier leaves or is absent from the base or his unit he is considered “absent” for 21 days, but if his absence lasts more than that, he will be considered as a deserter. For the army desertion is a very serious and punishable crime and the deserters are tried before a military tribunal. The deserter risk long prison terms and in some cases even a criminal record with the Israeli police department. In a country such as Israel where the army is so important, a deserter will have many problems to find work in civilian life.
- Violent crime in the military
Unfortunately, there are a lot of violent crimes in the country and it also happens in the army. There are different degrees of gravity for these crimes: assault without injury, assault with injury and assault with aggravating circumstances. Punishment can reach long imprisonment, but in cases of assault with aggravating circumstances the punishment will be twice heavier than for the others.
- Drug offenses in the army
Drug use is prohibited in Israel, but in the army it is considered even a more serious offense. If punishment is usually moderate in civil life when it comes to soft drugs, the army does not distinguish between hard and soft drugs, it also does not take into account whether it is a first offense or not, and military sanctions are always heavier than in civilian life, even in the case where the soldier was on leave during drug use.
- Post-traumatic stress
Post-traumatic stress is a severe type of anxiety disorder suffered by soldiers as a result of their participation in armed operations or war. The operation or war is completed but for them these events accompany them throughout their lives. This serious trauma they suffered when they were soldiers did not disappear and they cannot get out of it without help. Unfortunately, on one side, but fortunately for the victims of these traumas, Israel has much experience in this area and they receive excellent treatment and a lot of help from the army.
- Army Disabled
Army disabled people are soldiers or other military personnel who have been seriously injured due to military service or service with any other entity belonging to the country’s security. They receive assistance, rehabilitation and financial compensation from the State. There are several levels of disabilities and it is the army medical service which determines them after the relationship between the disability and the military service or other has been proven.
- Victims of war, hostile actions and terrorism
The victims of war, hostile actions and terrorism are people who have been directly affected and damaged by war, hostile actions or terrorist attacks because of the Israeli-Palestinian or Arab-Israeli conflict or because of a group of terrorists, in Israel as well as abroad. These victims receive assistance and compensation from the state and other special organizations dealing specifically with the problems of the victims of war, hostile actions and terrorism.
- Bereaved Families
The bereaved families are those that have lost loved ones in wars, hostile actions or terrorism while the latter protected our country. A number of websites have been created for the commemoration of those brave people and many social services and other organizations were founded to help the bereaved families and accompany them throughout the way. These families also receive assistance in the form of monthly compensations, assistance for housing and other purposes. In case of bereaved parents having another child reaching the age of military service, they have the right to veto and ask that he will not be engaged in a combat unit.
The compensation officer is the address for all victims of any kind, bereaved families, disabled or other vulnerable person because of war, terrorism or hostile actions. The compensation officer is an official appointed by the Ministry of Defense to take care of all the victims, help them regarding their medical treatments, caring for the rights due to them and accompany them along the way to facilitate things for them.
- Officers’ neglect
The officers in the army are responsible for their soldiers and their role is to ensure that everything goes well for them. Negligence or carelessness on their part may have very serious consequences, such as solders who commit suicide, solder’s death from dehydration or heat stroke during exercises, abuses on a soldier made by members of his unit, conflicts between soldiers etc. This means that the punishments for the officers’ negligence are particularly harsh.
- Illegal use of weapons
Each soldier receives a weapon and it is important for the army to know exactly what is happening with this weapon. A weapon also includes the parts of the weapon and its accessories, ammunition, explosives and other military equipment. A soldier illegally using his weapon will get a criminal sanctions as well as a criminal record. Whoever pulls his gun out from the military base without permission risks 15 years in prison. Whoever loses his weapon or the weapon is stolen from him gets a criminal sanctions and a criminal record. There are many more categories for this type of crime such as use of a weapon against the orders, possession of weapons, violation of safety rules, the use of weapons that endanger safety, violation of rules of engagement and so on. All automatically lead to criminal sanctions with a criminal record.