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What is the maximum age to join the IDF?

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

As we write this article, the 2023 war between Hamas and Israel is still unfolding. Many lovers of Israel from abroad contact our office, wishing to know whether they can enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces or volunteer tor fight for Israel, and what is the maximum age to join the IDF.

There are a few issues involved – IDF service is limited to citizens and permanent residents of Israel, and conscription is actually halted at the moment, as the army is concentrated on doing battle with a genocidal terrorist organization. However, most people eligible to make Aliyah can enlist in the IDF or volunteer to serve for a short period with or without acquiring an Israeli citizenship. If you are not eligible for Aliyah, you may currently volunteer in Israel as a medical professional (urgently needed at this time) as well as explore other avenues for volunteering.

What is the maximum age to join the IDF?

Do you have to make Aliyah to join the IDF?

Strictly speaking, no, But can anyone join the IDF? Also no.

Soldiers in Tzahal (the Israeli Defense Army) must be Israeli citizens \ permanent residents, and the primary way of acquiring this status as a foreign citizen is to either make Aliyah or to marry an Israeli. As noted in our article, IDF service to immigrants to Israel – which provides more detail on how long you are required to serve based on your age when you arrive in Israel – married women and married men over 24 are exempt from conscription to the IDF. Most Israeli soldiers were either born in Israel or made Aliyah as minors with their families.

Can I join the IDF if I don’t speak Hebrew?

No. Some degree of Hebrew proficiency is required before you can join the Israeli Defense Forces. However, there is a year, with an option for delay due to health reasons, studies, etc., between the moment you make Aliyah and your enlistment in Tzahal. During that period of time, your immigration benefits will include Hebrew lessons at an Ulpan. New immigrants (Olim) are assigned to a position based on their personal qualities, including knowledge of Hebrew. They may also receive further Hebrew lessons during their training.

Can I join the IDF at 25?

After the age of 21, you are not longer subject to the IDF draft (with certain exceptions, see below). However, you may volunteer to serve in the IDF up to the age of 28 – for a period of 18 months for men and 12 months for women.

Can I join the IDF at 30?

After the age of 28, most New Olim can no longer volunteer for or serve in the IDF. There are two exceptions – medical doctors and dentists.

Doctors who become Israeli must serve in the IDF for at least 24 months if they arrive before the age of 33. Dentists must serve in the IDF for two years if they arrive in Israel before reaching the age of 34. Either will serve as a medical officer, with the appropriate salary and position.

So what exactly is the maximum age to join the IDF?

As noted above, it depends upon your family status, your age when you arrived in Israel, and even your profession. Many foreign citizens and Jews abroad may contribute directly by volunteering in Israel without necessarily joining the IDF. And of course, telling the truth about what is happening can be a contribution all on its own.

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