After a string of major wars and countless antiterror campaigns over 70-plus years, there’s one reason the nation of Israel is still standing when the smoke clears: The IDF. Since its independence in 1948, the IDF has only lost one major conflict, and it was because U.S. President Eisenhower didn’t want them to start World War III over a canal.
In every conflict, the IDF has either proven its dominance over regional powers or proven its cunning in the battlefield. For all the talk of wiping Israel off the face of the Earth over more than seven decades, there’s a reason none of Israel’s enemies have tried.
With some exceptions, military service in Israel is mandatory and everyone serves at least two years. While serving, IDF soldiers deploy to some of the world’s most turbulent hotspots; this is because Israel is full of the world’s most turbulent hotspots. They train for places like the Gaza Strip and Hebron, on guard against both Arab terrorists and ultranationalist Jewish settlers.
This also means that they could spend their careers in the middle of the Negev Desert, but still end up taking missile fire from Hamas rockets. And while some IDF troops might end up guarding malls in Rehovot, even they can still pick up rifles and ice the bad guys. Speaking of which …
Unlike so many countries in the Middle East, the IDF doesn’t fool around with the heat they pack. There aren’t a lot of countries who build their own weapons anymore, but Israel is one of them. They pack the IWI Tavor, which uses the NATO 5.56 round. They use it because they needed a weapon that was more reliable in Israel’s sandy deserts and shorter for urban combat, but still worked with American weapons.
On top of sniper rifles, uzis and pistols made in Israel, the IDF also uses home-built drones, night vision and the Iron Dome anti-missile battery, used to stop Hamas’ katyusha rockets from hitting civilian targets.
Between the now-famous Mossad (Israel’s version of the CIA), Aman (military intelligence) and the Shin bet (internal security intelligence), it’s safe to say that Israel knows exactly what its neighbors are up to. It also knows what they’re going to do before they do it.
For example, before the 1967 Six-Day War, Mossad agent Eli Cohen infiltrated the Syrian defense apparatus. He was not only able to reveal the locations of Syria’s secret underground bases along the border, he even convinced the Syrians to plant trees on top of them so IDF artillery could target them.
Bottom line: if Israel wants something bad enough from you, they will kick in your door in the middle of the night and get it.
Hijackers took Israeli Jewish hostages and flew them to Uganda’s capital, where they held them for a week. After negotiations failed, the IDF flew to Entebbe Airport. From there, they drove a motorcade off of planes, pretending to be Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s motorcade. They made it to the terminal where the hijackers held the hostages. Then they killed every terrorist and Ugandan guard, drove off and flew away. Only three hostages and one IDF commando were killed.
Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack supported by the other Arab powers and the Soviet Union in 1973. It also came during the holiest day for the Jewish people, Yom Kippur. Egypt crossed into Israeli-held territory virtually unopposed and Syria almost retook the entire Golan Heights, as the IDF took three days to mobilize.
You can probably guess how this ends. Not only were both armies turned back, the IDF got so close to Syria’s capital, they were able to shell the city with artillery. In Egypt, the IDF trapped Egypt’s entire Third Army and made it within 100 kilometers of taking Cairo. They sued for peace because there would be no stopping the IDF if they pressed on to the Egyptian capital.