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Passover Special: How the IDF survives in the Desert

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Passover idf desret

To get to the Land of Israel, the Jews wandered 40 years in the desert.  This sounds like a very difficult journey. What if soldiers of the IDF found themselves wandering in the desert today? How would they handle the task? 

Roaming the desert wilderness is no simple task: it’s hot by day and cold at night; there’s no food and water available, making travel difficult. The Jews of the bible had to cross the desert to arrive in Israel. Today, if IDF soldiers found themselves on a similar trek, they could simply overcome the desert’s hardships. The IDF has many different capabilities for desert survival, and it’s not hard to understand why– the Negev Desert accounts for about 60% of the country’s area.

Nahal Beret March

Nahal’s Granite Battalion march their way to Masada on the rough terrain.


How the Jews of the Bible navigated the desert:

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night.” (Exodus 13, 21)

How IDF soldiers navigate the desert:

Unit 9900 Intelligence Division specializes in the analysis of maps and aerial photographs. Routinely they analyze topographical maps for operational needs. They inform the soldiers on the ground what to do, where to go and what to look out for. This same system of navigation is adaptable to any foreign and hostile territory.

unit 9900 2

An additional navigation system used by the IDF is the “Tzayad” (Hebrew: “Hunter”) Digital Army Program. The program allows units to share information on the location of friendly and hostile units, much like a GPS program in your car or phone enables you to easily locate restaurants or sites. In this way, all of the participating units are able to stay updated with the location and moves of other units, and focus on winning the fight rather than on gathering information.


What the Jews of the Bible did:

“And they journeyed from Elim, and pitched by the Red Sea. ” (Numbers 33, 10)

IDF soldiers patrol the desert using the “wildcat.” This vehicle is adapted for travel around sandy, dusty and rocky terrain. It includes a special ignition system so it can function well in harsh climate and is adapted to the desert in all respects, including special wheels and springs.

wildcat desert idf

* To learn more about the off-road vehicles, see here:


How the Jews of the Bible ate in the desert:

“This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening meat to eat, and in the morning bread to be satisfied.” (Exodus 16, 8)

How IDF soldiers eat in the desert:

There are the familiar rations, including tuna, canned fruits, corn, and chocolate spread. But there is also food special to the IDF–this food packet comes in flexible packaging that is perfect for the field.  Additionally, it doesn’t need refrigeration for two years. You can choose a variety of dishes, including potatoes and goulash, rice and chicken legs, meatballs in tomato sauce, etc. To heat the dish, all a soldier has to do is take his meal, add water, seal the bag and within minutes, thanks to a chemical reaction, he’ll have a hot meal to eat in the field.

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How the Jews of the Bible found water in the desert:

“And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.” ( Numbers 20:11)

How IDF soldiers find water in the desert:

There is a entire specific and professional unit for water supply. This water unit is comprised of reservists, all experts in the field of water engineering. The unit’s special systems include reverse osmosis and producing fresh water from water sources that are not good for drinking, such as streams and ponds.

water unit

* For more on the Water Unit of the General Staff, click here 


What the Jews of the Bible wore in the desert:


What IDF soldiers wear in the desert :

The IDF invests greatly in the uniforms of its fighters. The special battle garb transforms into the optimal fit for the soldier and includes knee and elbow protection. Additionally, these uniforms are made with special synthetic fabrics that are particularly strong and resistant to wear and tear. Suited for the heat of the desert, these uniforms are capable of exceptionally high sweat evaporation and retain body heat during the cold desert nights. In terms of footwear, combat soldiers are provided with socks made of anti-bacterial copper fibers, which prevent medical problems and bad smells even after a week of use.

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb

combat soldier garb that adapts to fit just right

combat soldier garb

Special non-smelling anti bacterial socks

combat soldier garb

Moral guidance

Where the Jews of the Bible found moral guidance

They received the Torah (Bible) at Mt. Sinai.

What guides IDF soldiers

The IDF has its own specific Ten Commandments (which do not replace the original)–the “Spirit of the IDF.” This ethical code was written in 1994 and is the moral guide of the IDF. IDF soldiers operate according to the ten values ​​it contains, including discipline and purity of arms.

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  • Published: 8 years ago on April 14, 2014
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  • Last Modified: April 14, 2014 @ 8:07 pm
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