Gadna (Israel)
Gadna is an Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i military program to prepare youth for their mandatory military service
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 or Border Police
Israel Border Police
The Israel Border Police is the gendarmerie and border security branch of the Israel National Police. It is also commonly known by its Hebrew abbreviation Magav , meaning border guard, whilst its members are colloquially known as Magavnikim . Border Guard is often used as the official name of the...

. A one week program of discipline and military learning run mostly by soldiers of the Nahal
Nahal is an Israel Defense Forces infantry brigade. Historically, it refers to a program that combines military service and establishment of new agricultural settlements, often in outlying areas...

 infantry brigade, as well as by soldiers recruited and trained especially for this matter. Gadna hosts an estimated 19,000 Israeli youth annually, as well as numerous foreign youths.


Gadna, an abbreviation for Gdudei No'ar , was created before the Israeli declaration of independence. Trainees originally served as combatants for all intents and purposes, actively participating in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, particularly on the Jerusalem front.


The commanders, the "Mefakdim" or "Mefakdot" (מפקדים or מפקדות, masculine and feminine plurals), who are sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

s and officers, wear either the green beret
A beret is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, or wool felt, or acrylic fiber....

 of the Nahal
Nahal is an Israel Defense Forces infantry brigade. Historically, it refers to a program that combines military service and establishment of new agricultural settlements, often in outlying areas...

 infantry brigade, (though they do not have the infantry badge on their beret, or the Nahal shoulder tag) or the general IDF green beret, wearing the Education and Youth Corps badge and tag instead. The commanders wear a brown braid on their left shoulders.
Trainees in Gadna are issued uniforms consisting of fatigue or B uniform ("Bet Uniforms", מדי ב) pants and a shirt, a military belt, a canteen, and a canteen holder. Trainees do not receive military shoes. Upon arrival, trainees are given hats which must be worn at all times. Trainees with long hair (boys and girls as one) must always tie their hair.

Living in army tents or barracks, the youth are organized into squads. The squad has two leaders chosen by the commander. The highest youth is taken under the base officer's wing and wears a braid on their left shoulder, or multi-colored (striped) epaulets. If they wear the braid they wear the same color epaulet as the rest of their unit. The second highest youth commander is the sergeant. They wear special epaulets, usually black, and they never wear a braid.


The Gadna program is subordinate to the Magen division of the Education and Youth Corps.


Numerous bases were related to the Gadna program over the years, although as of 2008, only 3 operational Gadna bases remain:
  • Sdeh Boker Gadna Base, in the Negev
    The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

     desert (the largest)
  • Tzalmon Gadna Base, in the Lower Galilee
  • Joara Gadna Base, on the Plains of Manasseh (the smallest)

Plans exist to upgrade and renovate these bases, which will likely be carried out before the 2009–10 school year.

Life in Gadna

While in the week long program all youth foreign and Israeli go through the same program. However, Israeli youth do other longer and more demanding programs in preparation for service in the IDF. Gadna participants wake up early and go to bed late. They learn about weapons, and learn how to take apart, clean and service the M-16 assault rifle. They also go through physical training and basic indoctrination. They learn about the history of the IDF and its great battles and heroes. Gadna participants also take part in maintaining the base including cleaning the grounds and kitchen duty. They also fire their weapons, go on short 'forced' marches (forced marches in full battle gear are common in all infantry units of the IDF).


While the Gadna program has been criticized as "overly militaristic" by certain educators and professors in Israel, the Education and Youth Corps has prepared a program which would see more militaristic and combatant values inserted into the lessons conducted in the program, although less emphasis will be put on the physical aspect of the program.

Notable alumni

  • Sergy Rikhter
    Sergy Rikhter
    Sergy Rikhter is an Israeli Olympic sport shooter.He shares the junior world record in the 10 metre air rifle, and was the 2009 ISSF World Cup champion. He will compete on behalf of Israel at the 2012 Summer Olympics.-Early life:...

     (born 1989), Olympic sport shooter who began shooting as part of a Gadna program
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