One of the first things a soldier learns when beginning basic training in the Israeli Army is Ruach Tzahal or the Spirit of the IDF. This is a short document which represents the IDF’s code of ethics and all soldiers are given a small copy of it to carry with them.
The code draws from four main sources, the tradition of the IDF and its military heritage, the tradition of the State of Israel, its democratic principles, laws and institutions, the tradition of the Jewish People throughout history and universal moral values based on the value and dignity of human life.
These sources lead to three fundamental values which can be summarised as defence of Israel, loyalty to the State and the protection of human dignity. These three values are then broken down into ten core values and these lead to a further thirty-something basic principles. The code is designed to instil respect for all human life in soldiers and avoid war and bloodshed as far as possible without putting the State in danger.
Thanks to Ruach Tzahal soldiers are given a clear code of conduct from their first day in the army and are reminded to follow it at all times, even when faced with the most heinous of enemies. It is thanks to these values that the IDF has been called the most moral army in the world by a number of people.
While the IDF may not get the best press coverage, there are in fact numerous senior military leaders from around the world who have nothing but praise for the way in which the army operates.
For instance, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of all British forces in Afghanistan said in a 2014 interview during one of Israel’s military campaigns in Gaza that, No other army in the world has ever done more than Israel is doing now to save the lives of innocent civilians in a combat zone.
When you come on your gap year with Aardvark you can choose to take our military add on and experience the way in which the IDF operates. You can take part in the Marva army program which will see you integrated into the army for two months during which time you will learn basic military skills.
The military add on includes Krav Maga training, combat conditioning, workshops on military Hebrew, visits to shooting ranges, visits to the IDF museum and the tank museum, a visit to Ammunition Hill, a number of influential guest speakers and more.
During the actual Marva program, which lasts for eight weeks, you will wear an army uniform, carry a gun and learn skills such as self-defence, topography, navigation and more. Of course you will also learn about Ruach Tzahal first hand and see for yourself that the IDF truly does all it can to act in a moral and correct way at all times.