Aluf (Hebrew: אלוף‬, lit. "champion") is the term used in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for officers who in other countries would have the rank of general, air marshal, or admiral. In addition to the aluf rank itself, there are four other ranks which are derivatives of the word. Together, they constitute the five highest ranks in the IDF.

Aside from being a military rank, "Aluf" is also used in a civilian context, particularly in sports, meaning "champion".


The term aluf comes from the Bible (אַלּוּף’allūp̄): the Edomites used it as a rank of nobility, while the later books of the Tanakh use it to describe Israelite captains as well, e.g. Zachariah 9:7, 12:5-6, and later, for example Psalms 55:13, where it is used as a general term for teacher. It comes from a Semitic root meaning "thousand", making an ’allūp̄ the one who commands a thousand people. Strong however connects the word used to describe the Dukes of Edom, to a different root "alf" denoting a teacher and the root for the animal 'ox' from which the letter Aleph itself is derived, rather than eleph thousand, however they both comprise the same 3 letters.

Rank order of aluf and its derivatives

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is an integrated force, ranks are the same in all services. It has a slightly compacted rank structure; for instance, the Chief of Staff (Ramatkal) is seemingly only equivalent to a lieutenant general (NATO OF-8) in other militaries. Rav aluf means 'arch-general', which would be equal to a field marshal or five star general in other armies and equivalent to OF-10.

Israel Defense Forces ranks: קצינים בכירים senior officers or field grade officers
רב סרן
Rav seren
Sgan aluf
אלוף משנה
Aluf mishne
Tat aluf
Rav aluf
NATO OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 or OF-6 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8
Abbreviation רס"ן
Major Lieutenant colonel Colonel or brigadier Brigadier general Major general Lieutenant general
Insignia IDF rav seren IDF sgan aluf IDF aluf mishne IDF tat aluf IDF aluf IDF rav aluf
More details at Israel Defense Forces ranks & IDF 2012 - Ranks (, english)

Rav aluf is usually translated as "lieutenant general", although it is the most senior rank in the IDF. The rank is given only to the Chief of General Staff (Ramatkal), so there can only be one active rav aluf under regular circumstances. However this could change in a time of war. During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, retired Rav Aluf Haim Bar-Lev was recalled up into service, replacing Shmuel Gonen as the commander of the southern theater. Thus, along with chief of the general staff David Elazar (who had succeeded Bar-Lev in that position the previous year), there were two people in active service holding the rank of rav aluf simultaneously.

Israel is essentially a land and air power, with the navy receiving less than five percent of the military budget. The three forces have the same ranks, although separate naval ranks were used for a short time in the 1950s; an officer who would be a general, air marshal, or admiral elsewhere is an aluf in any of the Israeli forces.

The non-Hebrew word "general" was also adopted into Hebrew (גנרל), and is used to refer to the generals of foreign armies. It can also be used colloquially in reference to a senior Israeli officer, in a derogatory sense implying that the officer in question is over-officious, incompetent, or involved in internecine power struggles with other officers, sometimes referred to as the "war of the generals" (Hebrew: "מלחמת הגנרלים"‎), to the neglect of proper military duties. For example, in a speech made by the former Israeli Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz, he criticized two other party members who both hold the rank of (retired) aluf: former Vice-Chief of General Staff, Aluf Matan Vilnai and former Commander of the Israeli Navy, Aluf Ami Ayalon, referring to them (and other former senior officers of the IDF) as "the generals and admirals":

"I look around me, and hear the voices, I look and I don't believe. Whenever a party does not win the status of a ruling party, the most respectable post is the Defense Ministry. And I hear the generals, and the admirals say: 'Why the Defense Ministry?' I hear the voices, and I am happy with myself, because this means we succeeded in changing the agenda in the State of Israel. The revolution is that a social general is no longer ruled out from being a minister of defense, and our generals yearn to deal with social issues."

See also

36th Division (Israel)

The Israel Defense Forces 36th Armor Division, also known as the Ga'ash Formation ("Rage"), is the largest regular-service armor division in the IDF. It was subordinate to the Northern Regional Command until February 2014.The division was established in September 1954 and until 1958 was led by Aluf Avraham Yoffe. At the time, divisional commands were mission-based commands without organic forces, but rather with troops apportioned according to given missions. From 1958–1962, it was led by Aluf Zvi Zamir; from 1962–1965 by Aluf Uzi Narkiss and from 1965–1969 by Aluf Elad Peled.

During the Six-Day War, the division led the battles in the northern West Bank, commanding the Barak Armored Brigade (then the 45th Armored Brigade), the 37th Brigade and forces from the 1st Brigade. Later, it oversaw the occupation of the southern Golan Heights. After the war, from 1969–1972, the division was led by Aluf Shmuel Gonen (Gorodish). From 1972–1974, it was led by then-Aluf Rafael Eitan.

During the Yom Kippur War, the division fought in the defensive battles over the northern Golan, and afterwards broke deeper into Syrian territory. During Operation Litani, Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1978, the division fought on the eastern front. During the 1982 Lebanon War, it fought on the central front, proceeding through the coastal route onto the gates of Beirut.

The division was based on the Golan Heights until February 2014 and included the 7th Armoured Brigade and 188th 'Barak' Armoured Brigade. As of July 2013, it is led by Brigadier-General Itzik Turjeman who replaced Brigadier-General Tamir Haiman.

Aluf Benn

Aluf Benn (Hebrew: אלוף בן‎, born 1965) is an Israeli journalist, author and editor-in-chief of the liberal Israeli national daily Haaretz.

Avichai Mandelblit

Aluf Avichai Mandelblit (Hebrew: אביחי מנדלבליט‎; born 29 June 1963) is an Israeli jurist who currently serves as the Attorney General of Israel. Mandelblit had a long career in the Israel Defense Forces legal system, eventually serving as the Chief Military Advocate General between 2004 and 2011. On April 2013 he was appointed Cabinet Secretary. In February 2016, he was appointed Attorney General.

Central Command (Israel)

The Israeli Central Command (Hebrew: פיקוד מרכז‎, Pikud Merkaz), often abbreviated to Pakmaz (פקמ"ז), is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is responsible for the units and brigades located in the West Bank (under the West Bank Division), Jerusalem, the Sharon, Gush Dan, and the Shephelah.

The commander (Aluf) of the central command is the one who is authorized to declare new cities in the Judea and Samaria Area.

Chief of the General Staff (Israel)

The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces (Hebrew: ראש המטה הכללי‬, Rosh HaMateh HaKlali, abbr. Ramatkal—רמטכ"ל‬), is the supreme commander and head of the Israel Defense Forces.

At any given time, the Chief of the General Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, rav aluf (Hebrew: רב-אלוף‎), which is usually translated into English as lieutenant general, a three-star rank. The lone exception to this rule occurred during the Yom Kippur War, when former Chief of the General Staff Haim Bar-Lev, who was a cabinet member at the outbreak of and during the war, was brought out of retirement and installed as chief of Southern Command. For a brief period, he and Chief of the General Staff David Elazar were both in active service with the rank of rav aluf.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is an integrated force, its ranks are the same in all services. It has a slightly compacted rank structure; for instance, the Chief of the General Staff (Ramatkal or rav aluf (Hebrew: רב-אלוף)) is seemingly only equivalent to a lieutenant general (NATO OF-8) in other militaries. Rav aluf means 'arch-general', which would be equal to a field marshal or five star general in other armies and equivalent to OF-10.


Chiliarch (from Greek: χιλίαρχος, chiliarchos, sometimes χιλιάρχης, chiliarches or χειλίαρχος, cheiliarchos; meaning "commander of a thousand" and occasionally rendered "thousandman" in English) is a military rank dating back to Antiquity.

The command of an ancient Greek chiliarch was called a '"chiliarchy" (χιλιαρχία, chiliarchia).

Computer Service Directorate

The Israeli Computer and IT Directorate (Hebrew: אגף התקשוב וההגנה בסביבת רשת‎, Agaf Ha-Tikshuv VeHaHagana BiSvivat Reshet) is the Israel Defense Forces body which charts the communication, wireless transmission, computerization, command and control over and defense of military and intelligence information in the IDF. The Directorate was created on March 3, 2003, on the basis of some functions previously held by the C4I Corps. The Directorate is also responsible for Cyber Defense in the IDF, a fact which has led to the name of the Directorate being changed to "Computer and IT Directorate" in May 2017.

The head of the directorate is Aluf Lior Carmeli.

Eliezer Shkedi

Aluf Eliezer Shkedi (Hebrew: אליעזר שקדי; born 16 August 1957) is a retired general in the Israel Defense Forces, who served as Commander of the Israeli Air Force from 4 April 2004 until 13 May 2008. He is also a former CEO of El Al, the flag carrier of Israel.

Shkedi was born in Israel to parents of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic descent; his father was a Hungarian-Jewish Holocaust survivor, whereas his mother was an Egyptian-Jewish immigrant.

Shkedi, a resident of Yehud-Monosson, was born in Israel and after graduating from high school in Kfar Saba he was conscripted into the IDF in 1975. He was accepted into the IAF Flight Academy and graduated as a fighter pilot. Shkedi was a member of several units before he was assigned to Hatzerim Airbase. He was based there during the 1982 Lebanon War in which he shot down two enemy aircraft.

In the mid-1980s, Shkedi studied at Ben-Gurion University, receiving a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science. He continued his career in the IAF until the mid-1990s when he studied for an M.A. in Systems management at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California.

He was promoted to Commander of the Israeli Air Force on 4 April 2004 and was succeeded in the position by Aluf Ido Nehoshtan upon his retirement on 13 May 2008. He is the chairman of the NGO Heroes for life.

General Shkedi was appointed front commander against countries that do not border Israel. This put him in charge of Israeli Iran Command, which was set up to be the overall coordinator of Israeli military operations and intelligence gathering against Iran should a war start between the two countries. Although the appointment was reported in late August 2006, it was said to have occurred before the Second Lebanon War began.

Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff

The Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff is a role assumed by the head of the Budgeting Directorate of Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The Advisor is responsible for handling the budgeting for the Israel Defense Forces arms, the financial planning for the military, and coordinating these with Ministry of Finance. As of January 2018, the Advisor is Brigadier-General Colonel (Tat-Aluf) Ariela Lazarovich.

General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces

Israeli General Staff (Hebrew: המטה הכללי של צה"ל‎), abbreviated Matkal (מטכ"ל), is the supreme command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is based in the Kirya compound (Rabin Camp) in Tel Aviv.

Ido Nehoshtan

Aluf Ido Nehoshtan, also Nehushtan (Hebrew: עידו נחושתן‎; born 1957) is a retired general in the Israel Defense Forces. He replaced Eliezer Shkedi on 4 April 2008 as Air Force Commander until he himself was replaced by Amir Eshel on 10 May 2012 upon his retirement from 37 years of service.

Israel Defense Forces ranks

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has a unique rank structure. Because the IDF is an integrated force, ranks are the same in all services (there is no differentiation between army, navy, air force, etc.) The ranks are derived from those used in the pre-state paramilitary Haganah, which operated during the Mandate period in order to protect the Yishuv. This is reflected in the slightly compacted rank structure: for instance, the Chief of Staff (rosh ha-mate ha-klali, initials: Ramatkal) is seemingly only equivalent to a lieutenant general in other militaries.

Israeli Air Force

The Israeli Air Force (IAF; Hebrew: זְרוֹעַ הָאֲוִיר וְהֶחָלָל‬, Zroa HaAvir VeHahalal, "Air and Space Arm", commonly known as חֵיל הָאֲוִיר‬, Kheil HaAvir, "Air Corps") operates as the aerial warfare branch of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence. As of August 2017 Aluf Amikam Norkin serves as the Air Force Commander.

The Israeli Air Force was established using commandeered or donated civilian aircraft and obsolete and surplus World War II combat aircraft. Eventually, more aircraft were procured, including Boeing B-17s, Bristol Beaufighters, de Havilland Mosquitoes and P-51D Mustangs. The Israeli Air Force played an important part in Operation Kadesh, Israel's part in the 1956 Suez Crisis, dropping paratroopers at the Mitla Pass. On June 5, 1967, the first day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force performed Operation Focus, debilitating the opposing Arab air forces and attaining air supremacy for the remainder of the war. Shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, Egypt initiated the War of Attrition, and the Israeli Air Force performed repeated bombings of strategic targets deep within enemy territory. When the Yom Kippur War broke out on October 6, 1973, Egyptian and Syrian advances forced the IAF to abandon detailed plans for the destruction of enemy air defences. Forced to operate under the missile and anti-aircraft artillery threats, the close air support it provided allowed Israeli troops on the ground to stem the tide and eventually go on the offensive.

Since that war most of Israel's military aircraft have been obtained from the United States. Among these are the F-4 Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Israeli Air Force has also operated a number of domestically produced types such as the IAI Nesher, and later, the more advanced IAI Kfir. On June 7, 1981, eight IAF F-16A fighters covered by six F-15A jets carried out Operation Opera to destroy the Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osiraq. On June 9, 1982, the Israeli Air Force carried out Operation Mole Cricket 19, crippling the Syrian air defence array. The IAF continued to mount attacks on Hezbollah and PLO positions in south Lebanon. On October 1, 1985, In response to a PLO terrorist attack which murdered three Israeli civilians in Cyprus, the Israeli air force carried out Operation Wooden Leg. The strike involved the bombing of PLO Headquarters in Tunis, by F-15 Eagles. In 1991, the IAF carried out Operation Solomon which brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1993 and 1996, the IAF participated in Operation Accountability and Operation Grapes of Wrath, respectively. It took part in many missions since, including during the 2006 Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Cloud and Operation Protective Edge. On September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force successfully bombed an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in Operation Orchard.

Israeli Navy

The Israeli Navy (Hebrew: חיל הים הישראלי‎, Ḥeil HaYam HaYisraeli (English: Sea Corps of Israel); Arabic: البحرية الإسرائيلية‎) is the naval warfare service arm of the Israel Defense Forces, operating primarily in the Mediterranean Sea theater as well as the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea theater. The current commander in chief of the Israeli Navy is Aluf Eli Sharvit. The Israeli Navy is believed to be responsible for maintaining Israel's offshore nuclear second strike capability.

Meir Dagan

Aluf Meir Dagan (Hebrew: מאיר דגן‎; 30 January 1945 – 17 March 2016) was an Israel Defense Forces Major General and Director of the Mossad.

Planning Directorate

The Israeli Planning Directorate is the central body in the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff which deals with strategic and tactical planning, the building of military forces, and military organization. It also serves as a planning body for the Ministry of Defense, and represents the IDF in various related fields to the Minister of Defense. It consists of the Planning Division, the Strategic Planning and tactical Relations Division, the Centre for Systems Analysis, and the Infrastructure and Organization Division. It is currently headed by Aluf Amir Abulafia.

Ramatkal Dan Halutz reorganized the Directorate in 2006 to incorporate the old External Relations Directorate.

Southern Command (Israel)

The Israeli Southern Command (Hebrew: פיקוד דרום‎, transliterated: Pikud Darom), often abbreviated to Padam (פד"מ), is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is responsible for the Negev, the Arava, and Eilat. It is currently headed by Aluf Herzl HaLevi.

Yeshayahu Yerushalmi

Yeshayahu Yerushalmi (Hebrew: ישעיהו ירושלמי‎), also Isaiah Yerushalmi (1920 in Poland - June 1, 1999), was an Israeli judge. Yerushalmi was the presiding judge of the preliminary Israeli inquiry into the USS Liberty incident (called the Yerushalmi Report). In many subsequent accounts his name is transliterated as Y. Yerushalmi.

Yitzhak Sadeh

Yitzhak Sadeh (Hebrew: יצחק שדה‬, born Izaak Landoberg, August 10, 1890 – August 20, 1952), was the commander of the Palmach and one of the founders of the Israel Defense Forces at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel.

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