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List of wars involving Israel

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Since its establishment in 1948, the State of Israel has fought eight recognized wars, two Palestinian intifadas, and a series of armed conflicts in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict.

Wars and other conflicts

Israel has been involved in a number of wars and large-scale military operations, including:

  • Israeli war of independence (November 1947 - July 1949) - Started as 6 months of civil war between Jewish and Arab militias at the end of the British Mandate of Palestine and turned into a regular war after the declaration of independence of Israel and the intervention of several Arab armies. In its conclusion, a set of agreements were signed between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, called the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which established the armistice lines between Israel and its neighbours, also known as the Green Line.
  • Reprisal operations (1950s - 1960s) - Military operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. These actions were in response to constant fedayeen incursions during which Arab guerillas infiltrated from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan into Israel to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The policy of the reprisal operations was exceptional due to Israel's declared aim of getting a high 'blood cost' among the enemy side which was believed to be necessary in order to deter them from committing future attacks.
  • Suez Crisis (October 1956) - A military attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel, beginning on 29 October 1956, with the intention to occupy the Sinai Peninsula and to take over the Suez Canal. The attack followed Egypt's decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam. Although the Israeli invasion of the Sinai was successful, the US and USSR forced it to retreat. Even so, Israel managed to re-open the Straits of Tiran and pacified its southern border.
  • Six-Day War (June 1967) - Fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, and others also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces. Following the war, the territory held by Israel expanded significantly ("The Purple Line") : The West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai and Gaza from Egypt.
  • War of Attrition (1967–1970) - A limited war fought between the Israeli military and forces of the Egyptian Republic, the USSR, Jordan, Syria, and the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1967 to 1970. It was initiated by the Egyptians as a way of recapturing the Sinai from the Israelis, who had been in control of the territory since the mid-1967 Six-Day War. The hostilities ended with a ceasefire signed between the countries in 1970 with frontiers remaining in the same place as when the war began.
  • Yom Kippur War (October 1973) - Fought from October 6 to October 26, 1973 by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel as a way of recapturing part of the territories which they lost to the Israelis back in the Six-Day War. The war began with a surprise joint attack by Egypt and Syria on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Egypt and Syria crossed the cease-fire lines in the Sinai and Golan Heights, respectively. Eventually Arab forces were defeated by Israel and there were no significant territorial changes.
  • Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon (1971-1982) - PLO relocate to South Lebanon from Jordan and stage attacks on the Galilee and as a base for international operations. In 1978, Israel launches Operation Litani - the first Israeli large-scale invasion of Lebanon, which was carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in order to expel PLO forces from the territory. Continuing ground and rocket attacks, and Israeli retaliations, eventually escalate into the 1982 War.
  • 1982 Lebanon War (1982) - Began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon to expel the PLO from the territory. The Government of Israel ordered the invasion as a response to the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization and due to the constant terror attacks on northern Israel made by the Palestinian guerilla organizations which resided in Lebanon. The war resulted in the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon and created an Israeli Security Zone in southern Lebanon.
  • South Lebanon conflict (1982–2000) - Nearly 20 years of warfare between the Israel Defense Forces and its Lebanese Christian proxy militias against Lebanese Muslim guerrilla, led by Iranian-backed Hezbollah, within what was defined by Israelis as the "Security Zone" in South Lebanon.
  • First Intifada (1987–1993) - First large-scale Palestinian uprising against Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • Second Intifada (2000–2005) - Second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified violence, which began in late September 2000.
  • 2006 Lebanon War (summer 2006) - Began as a military operation in response to the abduction of two Israeli reserve soldiers by the Hezbollah. The operation gradually strengthened, to become a wider confrontation. The principal participants were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military. The conflict started on 12 July 2006 and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006, when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon. The war resulted in the pacification of southern Lebanon and in the weakness of the Hezbollah (which suffered serious casualties but managed to survive the Israeli onslaught).
  • Gaza War (December 2008 - January 2009) - Three-week armed conflict between Israel and Hamas during the winter of 2008–2009. In an escalation of the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Israel responded to ongoing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip with military force in an action titled "Operation Cast Lead". Israel opened the attack with a surprise air strike on December 27, 2008. Israel's stated aim was to stop such rocket fire from and the import of arms into Gaza. Israeli forces attacked military and civilian targets, police stations, and government buildings in the opening assault. Israel declared an end to the conflict on January 18 and completed its withdrawal on January 21, 2009.
  • Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012) - Military offensive on the Gaza Strip.[1]


Conflicts considered as wars by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (as they were named by Israel) are marked in bold.[3]

Conflict Combatant 1 Combatant 2 Results Israeli commanders Israeli losses
Israeli Prime Minister Defense Minister of Israel Chief of Staff of the IDF IDF
War of Independence
 Israel Egypt Egypt
Jordan Transjordan
Syria Syria
Saudi Arabia
Flag of Hejaz 1917.svg HWA
Arab League ALA
David Ben-Gurion
Yaakov Dori
Operation Elkayam
 Israel Egypt Egypt Victory
  • Temporary lull in fedayeen attacks.[4]
Moshe Dayan
Operation Volcano
 Israel Egypt Egypt Victory
Operation Olive Leaves
 Israel  Syria Victory
  • Destruction of the Syrian emplacements.[6]
Sinai War
United Kingdom United Kingdom
France France
Egypt Egypt Victory
  • Sinai demilitarized, UNEF deployed.
April 7 Incident[7]
 Israel  Syria Victory
  • Israel prevailed in aerial battle.[8]
Levi Eshkol
Moshe Dayan
Yitzhak Rabin
Six-Day War
 Israel  Egypt
Iraq Iraq
War of Attrition
 Israel  Egypt
Soviet Union Soviet Union
Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg PLO
Both sides claimed victory
Golda Meir
Haim Bar-Lev
Yom Kippur War
 Israel  Egypt
Iraq Iraq
Morocco Morocco
 Saudi Arabia
David Elazar
Operation Entebbe
 Israel Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg PFLP-EO
  • 102 of 106 hostages rescued.[14]
Yitzhak Rabin
Shimon Peres
Mordechai Gur
Operation Litani
Lebanon FLA
Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg PLO Victory
  • PLO withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.
Menachem Begin
Ezer Weizman
First Lebanon War
Security Zone conflict
Lebanon SLA
Lebanon Lebanese Front
Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg PLO
Syria Syria
InfoboxHez.PNG Hezbollah
Lebanon Jammoul
Flag of the Amal Movement.svg Amal
Unilateral withdrawal[15]
  • PLO expulsion from Lebanon (1982)[16][17]
  • Failure to achieve Israeli-Lebanese peace.
Ariel Sharon
Rafael Eitan
First Intifada
 Israel Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg Fatah
Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas
Oslo I Accord
  • PNA established, PLO recognizes Israel.
Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Rabin
Dan Shomron
Second Intifada
 Israel Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg PA
Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas
  • Palestinian uprising suppressed.[18]
Ariel Sharon
Shaul Mofaz
Moshe Ya'alon
Operation Summer Rains
 Israel Flag of Palestine - short triangle.svg Fatah
Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas
  • 5-month lull in Hamas rocketfire.[19]
Ehud Olmert
Amir Peretz
Dan Halutz
Second Lebanon War
 Israel InfoboxHez.PNG Hezbollah Stalemate
Operation Cast Lead
 Israel Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas Victory
Ehud Barak
Gabi Ashkenazi
Operation Pillar of Defense
 Israel Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas Victory
  • Cessation of rocket fire into Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benny Gantz
Operation Protective Edge
 Israel Flag of Hamas.svg Hamas Both sides claim victory
Moshe Ya'alon

Other armed conflicts involving the IDF

See also


  1. ^ "Q&A: Israel-Gaza violence". BBC. 19 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Israel and Hamas Trade Attacks as Tension Rises". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Israeli military decorations by campaign
  4. ^ P.R. Kumaraswamy, The A to Z of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Scarecrow Press (2006), p 144
  5. ^ Walter Eytan, The First Ten Years: A Diplomatic History of Israel, Simon & Schuster (1958), p. 34
  6. ^ David Vital, Abraham Ben-Zvi, Aaron S. Klieman, Global Politics: essays in honor of David Vital (Frank Cass, 2001) p. 182
  7. ^ Although called an 'incident', Israeli press described the clash as a war.
  8. ^ Aloni, Shlomo (2001). Arab-Israeli Air Wars 1947–1982, Osprey Aviation, p. 31.
  9. ^ Lorch, Netanel (September 2, 2003). "The Arab-Israeli Wars". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved March 3, 2007. 
  10. ^ Schiff, Zeev, A History of the Israeli Army (1870–1974), Straight Arrow Books (San Francisco, 1974) p. 246, ISBN 0-87932-077-X
  11. ^ References:
    • Herzog, The War of Atonement, Little, Brown and Company, 1975. Forward
    • Insight Team of the London Sunday Times, Yom Kippur War, Double Day and Company, Inc, 1974, page 450
    • Luttwak and Horowitz, The Israeli Army. Cambridge, MA, Abt Books, 1983
    • Rabinovich, The Yom Kippur War, Schocken Books, 2004. Page 498
    • 0-313-31302-4&lr=#v=onepage&q=&f=false Revisiting The Yom Kippur War, P.R. Kumaraswamy, pages 1–2
    • Johnson and Tierney, Failing To Win, Perception of Victory and Defeat in International Politics. Page 177
    • Charles Liebman, The Myth of Defeat: The Memory of the Yom Kippur war in Israeli Society Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 29, No. 3, July 1993. Published by Frank Cass, London. Page 411.
  12. ^ Loyola, Mario (7 October 2013). "How We Used to Do It - American diplomacy in the". National Review. p. 1. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Siniver, Asaf. "Introduction." In The Yom Kippur War: Politics, Legacy, Diplomacy, 5. Oxford University Press.
  14. ^ McRaven, Bill. "Tactical Combat Casualty Care – November 2010". MHS US Department of Defense. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Armies in Lebanon 1982–84, Samuel Katz and Lee E. Russell, Osprey Men-At-Arms series No. 165, 1985
  17. ^ Hirst, David (2010). Beware of Small States. NationBooks. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-1-56858-657-1. In time, however, Arafat and his guerrilla leadership decided that they would have to withdraw, leaving no military and very little political or symbolic presence behind. Their enemy's firepower and overall strategic advantage were too great and it was apparently ready to use them to destroy the whole city over the heads of its inhabitants. The rank and file did not like this decision, and there were murmurings of 'treason' from some of Arafat's harsher critics. Had they not already held out, far longer than any Arab country in any former war, against all that the most powerful army in the Middle East – and the fourth most powerful in the world, according to Sharon – could throw against them? (...) But [Palestinians] knew that, if they expected too much, they could easily lose [Lebanense Muslim support] again. 'If this had been Jerusalem', they said, 'we would have stayed to the end. But Beirut is not outs to destroy. 
  18. ^ Sources:
  19. ^ "Israel shells Gaza for first time in months". International Herald Tribune. May 19, 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2009.