Born in Battle 1: 30 Years – Israel's Defense Army (1978)


With the establishment of the State of Israel the Haganah has left the underground to become a regular army.

The debt owed by the Yishuv and by the Jewish people to the Hagana , at all stages of its existence and development, is great indeed. It has grown from isolated buds in the earliest days of its foundation, in Petah-Tikva, in Rishon LeZiyon, Gedera, Rosh Pinna, Zichron-Ya'acov, Metula, by way of the Shomer organization and the pioneers of the Second Aliya, the Jewish Legion in the First World War, the defenders of Tel Hai, the continual growth of the Haganah organization in the period between the two world wars, the establishment of the Jewish Settlement Police at the time of the 1936-38 disturbances, the establishment of the Palmach and the Field Units, the large-scale volunteering in the Second World War and the establishment of the first Jewish Brigade, to become the Haganah which has been engaged in the mighty struggle of the present war against us, from 30th November, 1947 to 31st May, 1948.

Without the experience, the planning, the ability to execute and to command, the loyalty and the spirit of heroism of the Haganah, the Yishuv would not have been able to withstand the terrible trial of blood of the last six months, and we would not have attained the State of Israel. In the chronicles of the People of Israel the chapter 'Haganah' will shine with a glory and splendour that will never dim.

Now a new chapter has opened. The regular army of the State of Israel, the army of Israel's freedom and independence in its own country, has been established, in accordance with a decree on the Israel Defence Forces published by the Provisional Government. This army is now entrusted with the security of the people and of the homeland. The words of Israel's Declaration of Independence will be inscribed upon the shield of all armies in Israel:

'The State of Israel will be open to Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions and it will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.'

In taking to battle to crush the forces of evil which are striving to destroy our existence, our growth and our freedom, the army of Israel will bear in its heart the vision of our prophets of old: 'Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'

[Isaiah, 2, iv.]

The regular army of Israel will be made up of land, sea and air forces, including appropriate military services.

All those who until June 1st served in the brigades and other branches and who participated in the defence of the Yishuv and in our war for the freedom of Israel, and all those who will now be re-enlisted by order of the Government of Israel, will make up the Israel Defence Forces.

Every male and female soldier serving in the army will swear the following oath:

'I swear and undertake, on my word of honour, to remain faithful to the State of Israel, to its laws and to its legally constituted authorities, to accept without reservation the discipline of the Israel Defence Forces, to obey all orders and instructions given by its authorized command, and to dedicate all my strength and even to sacrifice my life in the defence of the homeland and the freedom of Israel.'

The moral and physical strength of every soldier and commander, and his dedication to his duty, will make the Israel Defence Force a bastion of the people and the homeland.

31st May, 1948, Year One of the Independence of Israel

D. Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister and Minister of Defence