05 November 2010

IDF Code of Ethics

The IDF has developed a code of conduct that is a combination of international law, Israeli law, and the IDF's own traditional ethical code - ruach tzahal, "the spirit of the IDF."

Yesterday, Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, sent to every commander in the IDF a letter in which he expressed his personal thoughts on ethics with regards to several recent incidents that had occurred. This letter was to be read to each and every soldier by the commanders of the IDF, as ordered by Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi.

Below, please find a translation of the letter, whereas the letter itself is originaly Hebrew form:

“IDF Commanders,

“In light of recently expressed criticism regarding criminal investigations and trials of soldiers and commanders (due to incidents which occurred during military operations), I wish to stress my position on the matter.

“It is the legal and moral duty of the IDF, as the military of the democratic-Jewish state that prides itself on rule of law, to investigate every claim of misconduct regarding its personnel. This was done with the hundreds of complaints raised regarding the behavior of our soldiers during Operation Cast Lead and the alleged committing of war crimes on their part. As combat ended, I commanded that investigative teams be established to examine every claim and complaint. This was done by our own initiative, for ourselves, as required by the unique ‘Spirit of the IDF’ [the ethical code of the IDF].

“In general, the correct course of action would be to resolve the matters within a military context, as is done by the various units when compiling their operational debriefings – which was done in cases where the commanders acted by the book. The Military Attorney General only becomes involved once these operational debriefings are completed, or when the internal process of debriefing is not properly executed.

“As someone who knows the soldiers of the IDF, and the values which guide them and their morality, I was not surprised to discover that the vast majority of complaints investigated both by the unit commanders and, in some cases by the Military Attorney General, were found to be groundless. The IDF had ensured, and will continue to insist, that its operations will be carried out by the rules of the State, and in light of the values of human life and the purity of arms – even in the face of an enemy that disregards every law and moral-ethical standard and uses its civilian population as a defensive wall.

“With that, we are not exempt from firmly treating the isolated extreme cases where the military commands were not followed and the moral code of the IDF disregarded- this is not only our duty but an interest of the first degree to every soldier and commander of the IDF. If we grant automatic immunity to every action and behavior only because it took place during combat, we will not be meeting our own expectations or keeping to the values which led us through generations of fighting our justified battle.

“In three cases (stealing and using a credit card, using a 9-year-old child to open bags with unknown content, and allegations of intentionally firing at a civilian) the Military Attorney General instructed to press charges, due to the severe irregularities found in the soldiers’ behavior.

“These single cases do not demonstrate a lack of support for the combat soldiers or the over-use of legal actions taken in the military. It is the opposite – these cases demonstrate the moral strength of the IDF and our ability, unlike the claims of various figures both in Israel and in the world, to uphold the law and maintain our values at all times.

“The missions and challenges we face are difficult and complex. Operational success will only be achieved if we fiercely preserve the ‘Spirit of the IDF’ and the morality which stands at the base of our actions, as I intend to fully preserve.”

Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi
IDF Chief of the General Staff

The Spirit of The IDF:
The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces

1. The Spirit of the IDF is an expression of the identity, values and norms of the IDF. It underlies every action performed in the IDF by each and every serviceman and servicewoman. (Hereafter the term servicemen will be construed as applying to both servicemen and servicewomen.)

2. The Spirit of the IDF comprises eleven core IDF values. It defines and presents the essence of each of them, and includes basic principles which express these values.

3. The Spirit of the IDF draws its values and basic principles from three traditions:

a. The tradition of the Jewish People throughout its history.

b. The tradition of the State of Israel, its democratic principles, laws and institutions.

c. The tradition of the IDF and its military heritage as the Israel Defense Forces.

4. The Spirit of the IDF is the ethical code by which all IDF enlisted personnel, officers, units and corps act. It is the norm to guide them in forming their patterns of behavior. They are expected to educate and critically evaluate themselves and others in accordance with these values and principles.

5. The complex nature of military activity in general, and combat in particular, may generate tensions with the values and basic principles of The Spirit of the IDF, and may raise problems of judgment about the proper balance needed between theory and practice.

The obligation to fulfill the mission and ensure military victory will be the compass guiding any effort to balance these values and basic principles of The Spirit of the IDF. The striving for proper balance according to this compass will make it possible to preserve the IDF as a body of high quality, imbued with values, and which fulfills its duties and missions appropriately.
Perseverance in Mission

The IDF serviceman will fight and conduct himself with courage in the face of all dangers and obstacles; he will persevere in his mission courageously, resolutely and thoughtfully even to the point of endangering his own life.

The perseverance of IDF servicemen in their mission is their capability and readiness to fight courageously in the face of danger and in most challenging situations; to strive unremittingly to achieve the military goal effectively, with full regard for the particular circumstances, notwithstanding any difficulty, stress or adversity or even mortal danger. They will do so with proper judgment and with due regard for risks.


The IDF serviceman will always go to the aid of his comrades when they need his help or depend on him, despite any danger or difficulty, even to the point of risking his life.

The fellowship of IDF servicemen is their bond as comrades in arms. It is their unwavering commitment to each other, their readiness to extend appropriate assistance, to go to the aid of a comrade, and even risk their lives on his behalf. In all their actions they will uphold and strengthen the solidarity of their unit in full cooperation with other units, and in support of the overall goals of the IDF.


The IDF serviceman will execute completely and successfully all that is required of him according to the letter and spirit of his orders and within the framework of the law.

The discipline of IDF servicemen is their readiness to act to the full extent of their abilities, to carry out what is demanded of them completely, according to their understanding of the letter of the orders they have received, and successfully, according to the spirit of their orders. It is their readiness to obey orders amidst a constant striving to execute them with understanding and dedication. They will take care to issue only legal orders, and disavow manifestly illegal orders.

Human Life

The IDF serviceman will, above all, preserve human life, in the recognition of its supreme value and will place himself or others at risk solely to the extent required to carry out his mission.

The sanctity of life in the eyes of the IDF servicemen will find expression in all of their actions, in deliberate and meticulous planning, in safe and intelligent training and in proper execution of their mission. In evaluating the risk to self and others, they will use the appropriate standards and will exercise constant care to limit injury to life to the extent required to accomplish the mission.


The IDF serviceman will act with complete dedication in the defense of the State of Israel and its citizens, according to IDF orders, within the framework of the laws of the State and democratic principles.

The loyalty of IDF servicemen is their dedication, in all actions, to their homeland, the State of Israel, its citizens and armed forces, and their constant readiness to fight and devote all their power, even at the risk of their own lives, in the defense of the sovereign State of Israel and the lives and the safety of its inhabitants, according to the values and orders of the IDF, while following the laws and the democratic principles of the State.

Personal Example

The IDF serviceman will comport himself as is required of him and will, himself, act as he demands of others, thoughtfully and dedicatedly, aware of his ability and responsibility to serve as a role model to those around him.

The personal example of the IDF servicemen is their acting as is demanded of them and as they themselves demand of others, their clear and convincing readiness to serve as an example to those around them, in their actions and comportment, to create, uphold and foster mutual identification and joint responsibility in properly carrying out their tasks and accomplishing their missions in all areas of military activity.


The IDF serviceman will aspire to be familiar with and understand the body of knowledge pertaining to his military position and will master every skill necessary for carrying out his duties.

The professionalism of IDF servicemen is their ability to correctly perform their military duties through striving to constantly excel in and improve their unit's and their individual achievements. They will do so by broadening their knowledge, and increasing proficiency, based upon the lessons of experience and study of the heritage and by expanding and deepening their understanding of the body of military knowledge.

Purity of Arms

The IDF serviceman will use force of arms only for the purpose of subduing the enemy to the necessary extent and will limit his use of force so as to prevent unnecessary harm to human life and limb, dignity and property.

The IDF servicemen's purity of arms is their self-control in use of armed force. They will use their arms only for the purpose of achieving their mission, without inflicting unnecessary injury to human life or limb; dignity or property, of both soldiers and civilians, with special consideration for the defenseless, whether in wartime, or during routine security operations, or in the absence of combat, or times of peace.


The IDF serviceman will constantly see himself as a representative and an emissary of the IDF. As such he will act solely on the basis of the authority he has been given and orders he has been issued.

The representativeness of IDF servicemen is their consciousness, expressed in all their actions, that the armed force placed in their hands and the power to use it are given to them only as members of the IDF and its authorized representatives, duly executing their orders in accordance with the laws of the State of Israel and is subject to its Government.


The IDF serviceman will see himself as an active participant in the defense of his country and its citizens. He will carry out his duties decisively, resolutely and with vigor, within the limits of his authority.

The responsibility of IDF servicemen is their active partnership and their readiness to use their utmost abilities in the defense of the State, its sovereignty, and the lives and safety of its citizens, within the framework of authority granted them by the IDF. They will carry out their duties fully, diligently, and with determination, commitment and initiative, in clear awareness that they are answerable for any consequences.


The IDF serviceman will strive in all his actions to fulfill his duties correctly and at the highest professional level, from exacting and thorough preparation to true, honest, complete and precise reporting.

The trustworthiness of IDF servicemen is their reliability in fully carrying out their charge, using their military skills, with the sincere belief and conviction that they are acting professionally. They are ready at all times to present things as they are, in planning, executing and reporting truthfully, completely, courageously and honestly.

Basic Principles

A. Values

1. The IDF serviceman will, in all his actions and conduct, express the basic values of the IDF:

Perseverance in the mission, comradeship, discipline, respect for human life, loyalty, personal example, professionalism, purity of arms, representativeness, responsibility, and trustworthiness, as defined above and as appropriate to the specific circumstances.

2. The IDF serviceman, when acting in the framework of his military role, will be ever cognizant that he bears responsibility not only for the outcomes of his acts and omissions, but also for the patterns of behavior which they help to create, whether by order or personal example, by direct or indirect influence, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

B. On Military Service

3. The IDF serviceman will view himself, in each of his actions, as bearing full responsibility for the lives and safety of the servicemen and all others who are dependent on his actions or decisions.

4. The IDF serviceman will be ready to place his own life at risk when confronting the enemy or to save human life to the extent required, but he will preserve his own life and that of others in all other military situations.

5. The IDF serviceman will take into account, in every practical context, not only the proper concern for human life, but also the influence his actions may have on the physical well-being and spiritual integrity and dignity of others.

6. The IDF serviceman will endeavor fully to exercise his capabilities as called upon in accordance with the priorities assigned by the IDF to combat, command, combat support and combat service support roles.

7. The IDF serviceman, in all his actions, will take care to uphold the honor of the State, its institutions, monuments and symbols, including the honor of the IDF and its symbols.

8. .The IDF serviceman will show special respect for the fallen of the IDF. The serviceman will behave with deference in ceremonies, at memorial sites, and at memorial and honor ceremonies, and will treat bereaved families with proper respect.

9. The IDF serviceman will maintain the tradition of the IDF by showing honor and respect for IDF wounded and disabled.

10. The IDF serviceman will maintain the tradition of the IDF, will study the IDF's military heritage and will promote esprit de corps.

11. The IDF serviceman will carry out his military activities without obtruding his personal views in matters beyond his sphere of responsibility, authority and professional expertise. He will take special care not to inject his personal opinions on issues subject to public controversy of a political, social or ideological nature.

12. The IDF serviceman will make use of his military authority or status, whether command or professional, solely for the benefit of the IDF. He will never use his military authority or status improperly to advance a personal objective, or to go beyond the limits of his authority and responsibility, in letter or spirit, within or without the IDF.

13. The IDF serviceman will hold himself responsible for the outcomes of his orders. He will support those who have acted in accordance with those orders or as is proper, and will view himself as responsible for the patterns of behavior which he imposed.

14. The IDF serviceman will support his unit and its commanders in every way necessary to fulfill the unit's mission of building, promoting and employing military force. The serviceman will obey his commanders in accordance with the law and maintain respect for his commanders, peers and subordinates.

15. The IDF servicemen will never conspire to conceal any offense or mishap, and will not entertain any proposal to be party to such a conspiracy. When confronted with an offense or mishap, the serviceman will act as is reasonable and proper to correct the aberration.

16. The IDF serviceman who participates in a discussion or dispute dealing with an activity in which the IDF is involved, whether before, during or after its implementation, will express his views in accordance with his professional knowledge and conviction, with honesty, candor and courage.

17. The IDF serviceman will use the authority at his disposal towards others only as is fair, self-controlled, reasonable and professional. He will show due respect for the person and the privacy of those with whom he interacts.

18. The IDF serviceman will view his appearance in an IDF uniform as an expression of his loyalty to the values and basic principles of the IDF.

C. When Confronting the Enemy

19. The IDF serviceman will use the force at his disposal, in all actions in the face of the enemy, manifesting perseverance in his mission, courage and judgment, always ready to carry out his duties despite danger to his life.

20. The IDF serviceman will be ready to do whatever is required, and even to endanger his own life, to come to the aid of his comrades or to recover wounded comrades from the battlefield.

21. The IDF serviceman will act, when confronting the enemy, according to the letter and spirit of the laws of war. He will adhere strictly to the principle of purity of arms and to the ethics of combat.

22. The IDF serviceman will treat enemy troops and civilians in areas controlled by the IDF in accordance with the letter and spirit of the laws of war and will not exceed the limits of his authority.

23. The IDF serviceman will act fairly with self-control, reasonably, and professionally, in carrying out the responsibilities of his position, in all his contacts with civilians in areas controlled by the IDF, whether in the course of battle or afterward. He will show respect towards the beliefs, values, sacred and historical sites of all civilians and military personnel as they deem proper and to the extent possible, in keeping with the values and basic principles of the IDF and in accordance with military needs and the given circumstances.

24. The IDF serviceman will fight and exert himself to the utmost, even placing his life at risk so as not to surrender to the enemy but to overcome him. He will not surrender as long as he has a chance of carrying out his mission. Even in the absence of such a possibility, he will not surrender as long as he has contact with his commander or the ability to extricate himself from his compromised position.

25. The IDF serviceman who, despite all efforts, has been taken prisoner will act according to IDF orders; responsibly, reasonably and honorably.

D. Relations with Civilian Bodies

26. The IDF serviceman will give preference to promoting the IDF's goals, as is required of him, in accordance with regulations, orders, values and basic principles, over the advancement of the goals of any civilian body, in any instance of conflict of interests between the IDF's goals and those of that body.

27. The IDF serviceman, in all official contact with civilian bodies, will act professionally and without compromising the IDF's values, basic principles or honor.

28. The IDF serviceman may be involved in the activities of a commercial or civilian body only in accordance with the letter and spirit of existing orders and procedures, and within the limits of his position.

29. The IDF serviceman will refrain from receiving personal benefits as a result of his position, rank, status or actions. He will not request, nor will he agree to accept any favors from any agent, inside or outside the IDF, directly or indirectly, for himself or others, except in accordance with due orders and procedures.

30. The IDF serviceman will ensure that every public appearance, especially in the mass media, has prior approval, expresses outright and unreserved loyalty to the value and basic principles of the IDF, reflects the IDF's policies and decisions, and contributes to the public's confidence in the IDF.

31. The IDF serviceman will ensure that his behavior even in private circumstances cannot be interpreted as compromising the IDF's values or basic principles, does not detract from the public's confidence in the IDF, and will not contribute to the creation of patters and behavior that could harm the implementation of the IDF's values and basic principles.

E. Reserve Duty and Retirement

32. The IDF serviceman, during his reserve duty, will act according to the same values and basic principles of the IDF as those that apply to servicemen in regular service.

33. The discharged serviceman may make private use of special or sensitive information which he gained or which came to his attention during his service only after he has received the proper authorization to make commercial media or other such use of such knowledge outside of the IDF framework.

34. The discharged serviceman may make use of his military status, including his reserve or retired rank, or may grant permission to others to do so, only in civilian contexts that do not compromise the IDF's values and basic principles, or its honor and the trust which it enjoys in the public mind.

تنسيق-الكليات-لعام سكس نيك كس

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