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The first such organization was Bar-Giora, founded in September 1907.

Bar-Giora was transformed into Hashomer in April 1909, which operated until the British Mandate of Palestine came into being in 1920.

The new army organized itself when the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine escalated into the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, which saw neighbouring Arab states attack.

Twelve infantry and armored brigades formed: Golani, Carmeli, Alexandroni, Kiryati, Givati, Etzioni, the 7th, and 8th armored brigades, Oded, Harel, Yiftach, and Negev.

Since 1967, the IDF has had close military relations with the United States, including development cooperation, such as on the F-15I jet, THEL laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

In 1965, the Israel Defense Forces was awarded the Israel Prize for its contribution to education.

The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel, many of them made specifically to match the IDF's needs, such as the Merkava main battle tank, Achzarit armoured personnel carrier, high tech weapons systems, the Iron Dome missile defense system, Trophy active protection system for vehicles, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles.

After the war, some of the brigades were converted to reserve units, and others were disbanded.

Directorates and corps were created from corps and services in the Haganah, and this basic structure in the IDF still exists today.

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