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NDTV Explainer: What Is Israel’s Reserve Army And Who Can Join

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Among those deployed are actors, journalists, and people from all walks of life.

New Delhi:

To counter Hamas group’s multi-pronged attack, Israel, along with the combined might of its military and air force, has mobilised 3 lakh reservists to fulfill Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s avowed quest to reduce Gaza to rubble. 

Israeli aircraft have pounded Gaza with unceasing airstrikes since Saturday’s surprise attack, while ground troops have engaged in ferocious battles to recapture border towns and villages seized by Hamas militants.

The massive mobilisation suggests a move preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza. However, Israeli officials have not confirmed any such plans.

“We are now carrying out searches in all of the communities and clearing the area,” Israel’s chief military spokesperson Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari said.”We have never drafted so many reservists on such a scale. We are going on the offensive.”

What Is The Israeli Army Reserve

In Israel, all citizens over 18 years of age, regardless of gender or ethnicity, are obligated to serve in the military during wartime. Both men and women are required to serve for at least 24 to 32 months. There are a few exceptions to this requirement, such as religious women, married individuals, and those with mental or physical disabilities.

READ |Explained: Why Gaza Is An ‘Open-Air Prison’ With No Escape

Given Israel’s history of being surrounded by potentially hostile countries with much larger populations, it has developed a system for rapidly mobilising large numbers of battle-ready troops in an emergency.

Because of this, Israeli planners have always viewed reservists as essential combat troops for any major operation, rather than as supplementary forces.

Who Can Serve In The Army Reserve

The majority of Israeli citizens who fulfill their compulsory military service are obligated to participate in yearly reserve duty, however, those who served in elite units, such as pilots, are encouraged to volunteer for extra reserve duty.

Among those deployed are actors, journalists, and people from all walks of life. 

A well-known Israeli reporter, Hananya Naftali, shared on social media that he was joining 3 lakh other reservists in the fight against Hamas. 

“The reason we are deployed is not just to defend our borders, it’s literally to defend our homes and families. This is a war between good and evil,” Mr Naftali posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

READ |Explained: How Mossad Functions And Why It Failed To Stop Hamas Attack

Lior Raz, an Israeli actor famous for the hugely popular TV series ‘Fauda’, joined the volunteer group Brothers in Arms on the front lines of Israel’s war against Hamas. From the southern Israeli town of Sderot, the actor took to social media to share a video of himself with Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, and journalist Avi Yissascharov.

In the video, the men can be seen witnessing a rocket attack by Hamas on Israel. 

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) shared on social media images of reservists saying goodbye to their families as they prepared to go to the frontlines.

“This is only one father out of thousands of parents who have had to say goodbye to their children, as 300,000 Israelis report for reserve duty. The IDF and the people of Israel will stand strong and united in the face of any threat,” the IDF shared with a photograph of a man bidding his child goodbye. 

Israel’s military reserve system requires almost all active duty personnel to transition to the reserves after completing their regular service.