Israel Defense Forces

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Israel Defense Forces

Military manpower Military age 18 years of age males age 15-49: 1,499,186 (2000 est.) Availability females age 15-49: 1,462,063 (2000 est.) males age 15-49: 1,226,903 (2000 est.) Fit for military service females age 15-49: 1,192,319 (2000 est.) males: 50,348 Reaching military (2000 est.) age annually females: 47,996 (2000 est.) Military expenditures Dollar figure Percent of GDP $8.7 billion (FY99) 9.4% (FY99)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (Hebrew: ‫לר לנה אצ‬ ‫ א י גה ב‬Tsva HaHagana LeYisrael (help·info) , ‫ש ה‬ "[Army] Force for the Defense of Israel"), often abbreviated with the Hebrew acronym ‫ל"צ‬ ‫ ה‬Tsahal, alternative English spelling Tzahal, is the name of Israel's armed forces, comprising the Israeli Army, the Israeli Air Force and the Israeli Navy. "The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), founded in 1948, ranks among the most battle-trained armed forces in the world, having had to defend the country in five major wars." The IDF as of August, 2004 had (according to unofficial estimates) 168,000 personnel, including 107,500 conscripts. The army had 125,000; the navy had 8,000; the air force had 35,000. Full mobilization to 576,000 could be quickly achieved with the reserves of 408,000.

The Israel Defense Forces were founded May 14, 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel "to defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel and To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life.". The IDF succeeded the Haganah (in particular, its operational branch, the Palmach) as the permanent military of the Jewish state. It was also joined by former elements of the Jewish Brigade that fought under the British flag during World War II. After the establishment of the IDF the two Jewish underground organizations the Etzel and Lehi joined with the IDF in a loose confederation but were allowed to operate independently in some sectors until the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, after which these two organizations were disbanded, and their members integrated into the IDF. The modern IDF came into existing during the period from 1949 to 1956 by experience gained through regional conflicts with their Arab neighbours. From 1956 to 1966, the IDF faced less conflict and used this time to purchase new equipment and change from an upstart army to a professional fighting force. As well, this period saw Israel develop their nuclear capability. After a decade of peace, the IDF faced a series of regional wars with their Arab neighbours who had the goal of destroying the Jewish State.

Service and manpower
Regular Service National military service is compulsory for Jewish and Druze men, and Jewish women, over the age of 18, although exemptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds (see Profile 21). Men in the Haredi community may choose to be exempt while enrolled in Yeshivas, a practice that is a source of tension, though some yeshiva programs like Hesder provide opportunities for service. Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two and sometimes under two. The IDF may on occasions require women who volunteer for combat positions to serve for three years because combat soldiers must undergo a lengthy period of training. Women in combat positions are also required to serve as reserve for several years after their dismissal from regular service, pending marriage, or pregnancy, is in order. Reserve Service Following regular service, men may be called for reserve service of up to one month annually, until the age of 43-45 (reservists may volunteer after this age), and may be called for active duty immediately in times of crisis. In most cases, the reserve duty is carried out in the same unit for years, in many cases the same unit as the active service and by the same people. Many soldiers who have served together in active service continue to meet in reserve duty for years after their discharge, causing reserve duty to become a strong male bonding experience in Israeli society. A well-known Israeli joke refers to civilians as soldiers on 11-month furlough. Although still available to be called up in times of crisis, most Israeli men, and virtually all women, do not actually perform reserve service in any given year. Units do not always call up all of their reservists every year, and a variety of exemptions are available if called for regular reserve service. Virtually no exemptions exist for reservists called up in a time of crisis, but experience has shown that in such cases (most recently, Operation Defensive Shield in 2002) exemptions are rarely requested or exercised; units generally achieve recruitment rates above those considered fully-manned. Recently, legislation has been proposed for reform in the reserve service, lowering the maximum service age to 40, designating it as a purely emergency force, as well as many other changes to the current structure (although the Defence Minister can suspend any portion of it at any time for security reasons). The age threshold for many reservists whose positions are not listed, though, will be fixed at 49. The legislation is set out to take effect by 13 March 2008. Border Guard Service Some IDF soldiers will serve their mandatory military service in the Mishmar HaGvul (abbreviated to Magav) or Border Guard. Once the soldiers complete their IDF combat training they undergo additional counter-terror and Border Guard training. They are then assigned to any one of the Border Guard units around the country.

The Border Guard units fight side by side with the regular IDF combat units. They also are responsible for security in heavy urban areas such as the City of Jerusalem. Many officers in the Border Guard come from the IDF combat units. While the Border Guard does retain their own command structure, on the ground they are almost indistinguishable from the regular IDF units. Minorities in the IDF Druze Arabs and Circassians, like Israeli Jews, serve mandatory service in the IDF. In recent years, some Druze officers have reached positions in the IDF as high as Major General and many have received orders of distinction. Service is not mandatory for all other Israeli minorities (notably Israeli Arabs but also Black Hebrews and others). However, a large number of Bedouin, as well as some Christian Arabs and even a few Muslim Arabs volunteer. Six Israeli Arabs have received orders of distinction as a part of their military service; of them the most famous is a Bedouin officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abd El-Amin Hajer (also known as Amos Yarkoni), who received the Order of Distinction. Recently, a Bedouin officer was promoted to the rank of Colonel. No direct social benefits are tied to completion of military service, but doing so is sometimes required for attaining security clearance and serving in some types of government positions (in most cases, security-related), as well as some indirect benefits. Israeli Arabs claim that this puts them at a disadvantage vs. non-Arab Israeli citizens - although any Israeli Arab has the opportunity to do military service, if he or she wants to. The Israeli government claims that this arrangement provides equal opportunity for the Arab population. On the other hand, non-Arab Israelis could argue that the mandatory three-year (20 months for women) military service puts them at a disadvantage, as they effectively lose three years of their life through their service in the IDF, while the Arab Israelis are able to start right into their jobs after school, or study at a university. According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied territories, "Israeli Arabs were not required to perform mandatory military service and, in practice, only a small percentage of Israeli Arabs served in the military. Those who did not serve in the army had less access than other citizens to social and economic benefits for which military service was a prerequisite or an advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies, and employment, especially government or security-related industrial employment. Regarding the latter, for security reasons, Israeli Arabs generally were restricted from working in companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields." In recent years, there have been several initiatives to enable Israeli Arabs to volunteer for civilian National Service instead of to the IDF, completion of which would grant the same privileges as those granted to IDF veterans. However, this plan has gained strong resistance from Arab members of the parliament, and as a result, has not been implemented yet. Since 1993, homosexuals have been allowed to openly serve in the military, including special units.

Women in the IDF Israel has female conscription, but about a third of female conscripts (more than double the figure for men) are exempted, mainly for religious and nuptial reasons. Following their active service, women, like men, are in theory required to serve up to one month annually in reserve duty. However, in practice only some women in combat roles get called for active reserve duty, and only for a few years following their active service, with many exit points (e.g., pregnancy). Apart from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when manpower shortages saw many of them taking active part in battles on the ground, women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles. During this period however, the IDF reputedly favoured female instructors for training male soldiers in certain roles, particularly tank crews. This was on the basis that female instructors of similar age to the young conscripts were more likely to receive the full attention of their students. But after a landmark 1994 High Court appeal by Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, the Air Force was instructed to open its pilots course to women (several served as transport pilots during the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and "Operation Kadesh" in 1956, but the Air Force later closed its ranks to women fliers). Miller failed the entrance exams, but since her initiative, many additional combat roles were opened. As of 2005, women are allowed to serve in 83% of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary for women. As of 2002, 33% of lower rank Officers are women, 21% of Captains and Majors, but only 3% of the most senior ranks. 450 women currently serve in combat units of Israel's security forces, primarily in the Border Police. The first female fighter pilot received her wings in 2001. In a controversial move, the IDF abolished its "Women's Corps" command in 2004, with a view that it has become an anachronism and a stumbling block towards integration of women in the army as regular soldiers with no special status. However, after pressures from feminist lobbies, The Chief of Staff was persuaded to keep an "advisor for women's affairs".

Expenditures and alliances
During 1950-66, Israel spent an average of 9% of its GDP on defense. Defense expenditures increased dramatically after both the 1967 and 1973 wars. In 1996, the military budget reached 10.6% of GDP and represented about 21.5% of the total 1996 budget. In 1983, the United States and Israel established a Joint Political Military Group, which convenes twice a year. Both the U.S. and Israel participate in joint military planning and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development. Additionally the U.S. military maintains two classified, pre-positioned War Reserve Stocks in Israel valued at $493 million. Israel has the official distinction of being an American Major non-NATO ally. As a result of this, America shares the vast majority of its security and military technology with Israel.

Israel has received US$1.8 billion in military aid annually from the United States since 1973. This amount has increased in recent years as non-military economic aid has been shifted to military aid. This aid is earmarked for use in the U.S. defence contractor market.

High command (General Staff)
All branches of the IDF are subordinate to a single General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff (Hebrew acronym: ‫ל"טר‬pronounced: Ramatkal) is the only serving officer having the rank of ‫, כמ‬ Lieutenant General (in Hebrew: ‫ וא ר‬pronounced: "Rav Aluf"). He reports directly to the Defense ‫,לב‬ ‫ף‬ Minister and indirectly to the Prime Minister of Israel and the cabinet. Chiefs of Staff are formally appointed by the cabinet, based on the Defense Minister's recommendation, for three years, but the government can vote to extend their service to four (and in rare occasions even five) years. The current chief of staff is (Lieutenant) General (Rav-Aluf) Dan Halutz, who replaced Moshe Ya'alon, on June 1st, 2005.

Military structure
The IDF is comprised of the following bodies (those whose respective heads are members of the General Staff are in bold):

Human Resources Directorate Military Police Education and Youth Corps General Corps Military Rabbinate Womens' Affairs advisor


Ground Forces Command
        

Infantry Corps Armor Corps Engineering Corps Artillery Corps Field Intelligence Corps Adjutant Corps Ordnance Corps Logistics Corps C4I Corps

      

Planning Directorate Computer Service Directorate  Technological and Logistics Directorate

Medical Corps

Air and Space Arm
 

Air Force Regional commands Air Defense Network
   

Sea Arm

Sea Corps

Northern Command Central Command Southern Command Home Front Command


Other bodies

General Staff
    

Operations Directorate IDF Spokesperson Intelligence Directorate Intelligence Corps Military Censor

      

Military Advocate General Military Court of Appeals Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Military Academies Chief Reserve Officer Military Secretary of the Prime Minister

Related bodies
The following bodies work closely with the IDF, but do not (or only partially) belong to its formal structure (those whose respective heads are members of the General Staff are in bold).

Security forces

  

Intelligence Community
  

Shabak Mossad National Security Council

Israeli police

Israel Military Industries Israel Aircraft Industries RAFAEL Armament Development Authority  Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry

Border Police Oversight

 

Prison Service Knesset Guard

Defense Establishment Comptroller  Director-general of the Ministry of Defense

Israeli military technology
The IDF is considered to be one of the most high-tech armies in the world, possessing top-of-the-line weapons and computer systems, Some of it American-made or indigenously modified (such as the M4A1 assault rifle, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and Apache helicopter). Israel receives more than US$2 billion per year in military aid from the United States, and much of it requires that American equipment be purchased with it. In spite of this however, Israel also has developed its own independent weapons industry. Weapons such as the Merkava battle tank, Kfir jet series, and various small arms such as the Galil assault rifle and Uzi submachine gun have all proven to be very successful. The IDF also has several large internal research and development departments, and it purchases many technologies produced by the Israeli security industries including IAI, IMI, Elbit, El-Op, Rafael, Soltam and dozens of smaller firms. Many of these developments have been battle-tested in Israel's numerous military engagements, making the relationship mutually beneficial, the IDF getting tailor-made solutions and the industries a very high repute.

Main Israeli developments

An Israeli Merkava main battle tank.

Israel's military technology is most famous for its guns, armored fighting vehicles (tanks, tank-converted APCs, armoured bulldozers etc) and rocketry (missiles and rockets). Israel also designs and in some cases it has manufactured aircraft (Kfir, Lavi; both discontinued) and naval systems (patrol and missile ships). Much of the IDF's electronic systems (intelligence, communication, command and control, navigation etc.) are Israeli-developed, including many systems installed on foreign platforms (esp. aircraft, tanks and submarines). So are many of its precision-guided munitions. Israel and the United States are the only countries in the world with an anti-ballistic missile defense system ("Hetz", Arrow, or Patriot (U.S.) developed with funding and technology from the United States), though an operational system is in place protecting the Moscow area. Israel is also working with the U.S. on development of a tactical high energy laser system against medium range rockets (called Nautilus THEL). Israel has the independent capability of launching reconnaissance satellites into orbit (a capability which only Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the People's Republic of China, India and Japan hold). Both the satellites (Ofeq) and the launchers (Shavit) were developed by the Israeli security industries.

Israel is also said to have developed an indigenous nuclear capability, although no official details or acknowledgements have ever been publicized. On the issue of this nuclear weapons program, Israel chooses to follow a policy of deliberate ambiguity.

Specific weapon systems

Small Arms o Tavor TAR-21 bullpup assault rifle  "Refaim" advance rifle grenade o Galil assault rifle o Uzi submachine gun  Micro Uzi  Para Micro Uzi  Mini Uzi  Uzi pistol o IMI Negev light machine gun o Jericho 941 "Baby Eagle" handgun o T.C.I. M89-SR semi-auto bullpup sniper rifle (based on a M-36 Sardius rifle) o SR-99 semi-auto sniper rifle o RCWS - remote control weapon station o OWS - overhead weapon station (also known as "Mag Refael") o Corner Shot (Joint U.SIsraeli)  Armoured Fighting Vehicles o Merkava - Main battle tank  Mk 1  Mk 2  Mk 3  Mk 3 Baz (improved armour and fire control system)  Mk 3 LIC (modified for low intensity warfare, i.e. urban warfare).  Mk 4  Nammer ARV Merkava armoured

Rockets and Missiles o Gil/Spike - ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) o Shifon - ATGM o Jericho missile - ballistic missile o Shavit - satellite launch missile, based on Jericho o Rafael Python 4 and Rafael Python 5 - advance air-to-air missiles o Popeye (AGM-142) advance guided air-to-ground missile o Gabriel anti-ship missile o Hetz (Arrow missile) - part of a ballistic missile defense system, able to shoot down ballistic missiles  Electronics and High-Tech o Oren Yarok (Green Pine) radar system used by the Arrow system o Phalcon - intelligence gathering systems installed on large airplane o Satellites  Ofeq - reconnaissance satellite  Amos communications satellite (civilian, used by the IDF) o Katbam - unmanned naval vehicle o LITENING targeting pod enhance fighter jets offensive capabilities o McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, McDonnell

recovery vehicle o Magah (upgraded M60 Patton) - Main battle tank o Multi purpose tank-chassis based IFVs/CEVs  Puma - Combat engineering armoured vehicle  Achzarit - APC (armored personal carrier)  NagmaShot - an APC based on the Centurion tank  Nagmachon  Nakpadon o Caterpillar D9 up-armored bulldozer military version o Machbet - self propelled anti aircraft system o Self-propelled artillery systems  All-terrain vehicles and other wheeled vehicles o Abir o Sufa o Desert Raider

Douglas F-15 Eagle and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet electronic systems o Barak Zoher - advance tank firing system, installed on Merkava tanks o Dolphin class submarine electronic and warfare systems  Aircraft platforms o Nesher fighter jet (upgraded Mirage V) o Kfir fighter jet (upgraded and improved Mirage V) o Nammer fighter jet (Mirage III) o Lavi fighter jet (original design, prototype flown but project cancelled due to cost) o Arava STOL medium transport aircraft o Mazlat (UAV) - unmanned small aerial vehicle  Naval platforms o Dabur/Dvora/Tsir'a/Yatush patrol craft o Sa'ar-class missile boat  Saar 2 class missile boats  Saar 3 class missile boats  Saar 4 class missile boats  Saar 4.5 class missile boats  Saar 5 class missile boats

Nuclear capability
It is generally believed that Israel has nuclear weapons. The weapons are thought to have been developed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center's nuclear reactor since the 1960's. The first two nuclear bombs were probably operational before the Six-Day War and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ordered them

armed in Israel's first nuclear alert during that war. It is also believed that, fearing defeat in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israelis assembled thirteen twenty-kiloton nuclear bombs. The current size and composition of Israel's nuclear stockpile is uncertain, and is the subject of various estimates and reports. FAS estimates that Israel probably has 100-200 nuclear warheads, which can be delivered by airplanes (A-4 Skyhawk or converted F-4 Phantom II), or ballistic missiles (Lance, Jericho or Jericho II missiles). The Jericho II is reported to have a range between 1,500 and 4,000 km, meaning that it can target sites as far away as central Russia, Iran and Libya. It has also been speculated that the Israeli Navy's three Dolphin class submarines may be capable of carrying nuclear-armed specially-modified Popeye Turbo cruise missiles. These missiles are purported to have a 1,500 km range and are supposedly fired out of what are suspected to be unusually-sized additional torpedo tubes that were allegedly installed on the Dolphin submarine and are otherwise larger than what is required to accommodate any currently known western torpedo design in existence. A test of such a missile is alleged to have taken place off the coast of Sri Lanka in May 2000. Nevertheless, some military analysts have labeled such rumors to be highly unlikely and impossible given the logistics of the submarines. Furthermore, there is no factual basis for the origins of the alleged test firing. The Israeli government has neither acknowledged nor denied that it possesses nuclear weapons, an official policy referred to as "ambiguity". However, details of Israel's nuclear program were revealed in 1986 to the British press by Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician. Following these revelations, Mordechai Vanunu was abducted by the Mossad and convicted of treason in his country. Released in 2004 under specific conditions, he lives today under surveillance in Israel.

Ranks and insignia
The Israel Defense Forces has four enlisted ranks:
    

3 Supreme or General Officers: Rav Aluf (Ramatkal), Alúf, Tat alúf 3 Field or Senior Officers: Alúf mishné, Sgan alúf, Rav séren 3 Company Grade or Junior Officers: Séren, Ségen and Ségen mishné (Sagam) 2 academic officers: Katsín akademái bakhír, Katsín miktsói akademái 5 non-commissioned officer ranks: Rav nagád, Rav samál bakhír, Rav samál mitkadém, Rav samál rishón, Rav samál

Non-officer enlisted ranks include: Samál rishón, Samál, Rav turái (Rabat), Turái rishón, Turái Unlike most world armies, these ranks are common for all corps in the IDF, including the air force and navy. Enlisted personnel sew their ranks to their sleeves, while officers and NCOs wear them on their shoulders.

Code of Conduct
In 1992, the IDF drafted a Code of Conduct that is a combination of international law, Israeli law, Jewish heritage and the IDF's own traditional ethical code - Ruach Tzahal ‫ל"צ ר‬ ‫"( ה ו‬The Spirit of the ‫ח‬ IDF").

The Values of the IDF
Tenacity of Purpose in Performing Missions and Drive to Victory - "The IDF servicemen and women will fight and conduct themselves with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; They will persevere in their missions resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering their lives." Responsibility - "The IDF serviceman or woman will see themselves as active participants in the defense of the state, its citizens and residents. They will carry out their duties at all times with initiative, involvement and diligence with common sense and within the framework of their authority, while prepared to bear responsibility for their conduct." Credibility - "The IDF servicemen and women shall present things objectively, completely and precisely, in planning, performing and reporting. They will act in such a manner that their peers and commanders can rely upon them in performing their tasks." Personal Example - "The IDF servicemen and women will comport themselves as required of them, and will demand of themselves as they demand of others, out of recognition of their ability and responsibility within the military and without to serve as a deserving role model."

Human Life - "The IDF servicemen and women will act in a judicious and safe manner in all they do, out of recognition of the supreme value of human life. During combat they will endanger themselves and their comrades only to the extent required to carry out their mission." Purity of Arms - "The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property." (see also Qana Shelling) Professionalism - "The IDF servicemen and women will acquire the professional knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks, and will implement them while striving continuously to perfect their personal and collective achievements." Discipline - "The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders." Comradeship - "The IDF servicemen and women will act out of fraternity and devotion to their comrades, and will always go to their assistance when they need their help or depend on them, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking their lives." Sense of Mission - "The IDF soldiers view their service in the IDF as a mission; They will be ready to give their all in order to defend the state, its citizens and residents. This is due to the fact that they are representatives of the IDF who act on the basis and in the framework of the authority given to them in accordance with IDF orders."

Code of Conduct against terrorists
Recently, a team of professors, commanders and former judges, led by Tel Aviv University the holder of the Ethics chair, Professor Assa Kasher, developed a code of conduct which emphasizes the right behavior in low intensity warfare against terrorists, where soldiers must operate within a civilian population. Reserve units and regular units alike are taught the following eleven rules of conduct, which are an addition to the more general IDF Spirit: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Military action can only be taken against military targets. The use of force must be proportional. Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF. Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked. Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners. Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested. 7. Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to oneself and one's enemy. 8. Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal. 9. Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts.

10. Soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles. 11. Soldiers must report all violations of this code. Critics, including B'Tselem and Amnesty International accuse Israel of frequently violating their own Purity of Arms and code of ethics, and protecting soldiers who do.

Counterterrorism tactics
Owing to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the tactics of the IDF have been adapted for low intensity warfare primarily against Palestinian militants operating from within densely-populated Israeli occupied territory.

Targeted killing
The IDF employs a controversial strategy of "focused foiling" (in Hebrew: ‫ ומו ס‬sikul memukad) ‫קמ לי‬ ‫כ‬ ‫ד‬ of presumed Palestinian terrorist leaders, aimed at preventing future acts of violence by killing a person related to anticipated future violence (such as terrorist at the stages of planning or executing a terrorist attack). Among prominent figures assassinated by Israel are Abu Jihad, Abbas_al-Musawi, and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

House demolitions
The IDF has historically used a strategy of demolishing houses of family members of suicide bombers, originally claiming that this was a very effective prevention tactic: Would-be bombers' families sometimes prevent the bomber, sometimes even going as far as informing to the IDF, in the hope of preventing their family-member's death as well as their house being demolished. Some would-be bombers even relented at the last moment, fearing their parent's home would be demolished. Critics, including human right organizations [5], contend that effectiveness does not legitimize excessive force. They also contend that the demolitions carried out by the IDF disproportionately affect civilians. However, many Israelis accept this tactic as necessary. During the recent conflict, the number of houses demolished has increased significantly, both as the result of an increase in the number of suicide bombers, as well as due to more lenient criteria for house demolition. The IDF now routinely demolishes houses from which shots were fired at nearby traffic or settlements, houses harboring concealed Smuggling tunnel entrances in the Gaza strip, and for other security reasons. Another main source for house demolition is in the course of fighting. After several IDF soldiers were killed early in the conflict while searching houses containing militants, the IDF started employing a tactic of surrounding such houses, calling on the occupants (civilian and militant) to exit, and demolishing the house on top of the militants within in case they do not surrender. This tactic is now used whenever feasible (i.e., non multi-rise building that's separated from other houses). Palestinians claim several cases in which houses were demolished on top of incapacitated or deaf civilian occupants. However, the IDF claims that in the vast majority of cases the occupants were militants. In some heavy fighting incidents, esp. in the Battle of Jenin 2002 and Operation Rainbow in Rafah 2004, heavily-armored IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were used to demolish houses to widen alleyways or to secure locations for IDF troops.

Palestinians and some international organizations claim the use of bulldozers by the IDF is illegal. In one well-known incident, International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie was killed while trying to stop a bulldozer in Rafah. In summer 2005, after numerous houses had been destroyed, the Israeli army itself came to the conclusion that these demolitions do not contribute to Israel's security and announced putting an end to this policy. This does however not mean that, as part of its "low intensity warfare", the IDF would not destroy civilian homes during combat. The house demolition policy was never applied to Jews who killed Arabs, such as Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded 125 in a 1994 shooting attack in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, West Bank.