Mahal (Overseas Volunteers) is the name given to more than 3,000 volunteers from around the world, mostly Jews from Western countries who came to Israel during the War of Independence to help the Haganah and later the IDF, which was taking form, in the battles of war.
There is no doubt that Mahal contributed greatly to the war effort and laid foundations for the establishment of the IDF, and therefore, since 1948, the IDF has enabled hundreds of volunteers from around the world to join the army every year and continue to contribute to the State of Israel.
The Mahal program is intended for Jewish youth from foreign countries who wish to volunteer for military service and to enlist in the IDF as "Tourists". That is, these youngsters are not Israeli citizens but receive a designated residence permit by virtue of their being registered on this track.
Among the volunteers are children of Israeli parents whose center of life is not in Israel (they live abroad): these young people can also enlist for this track, even though they have Israeli citizenships.
Many volunteers come to Israel independently to enlist in the army, and during their service they are recognized as "lone soldiers."
Hundreds of youngsters volunteer to the Mahal program every year, most of them from the US and France. Approximately 90% of the volunteers enlist to combat units.
At the end of their service there are volunteers who return to their countries of origin, and there are those who immigrate to Israel alone or with their families during the service or following it.
It is worth mentioning that 50% of volunteers choose to stay in Israel and make aliya.
“They came to us when we needed
them most, in those difficult and fateful days of our War of Independence
Former Prime Minister, Yitzhak