Welcome to the medals, ribbons and decorations in Israel website. I made this site first of all because it deals with my hobby of collecting medals and decorations and learning the history about them. In the second place I noticed that the existing sites, official Israeli sites as well as private sites, lack much data and actually contain contradicting information and inaccuracies. 

The official sites of the Ministry of Defense, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israel Police that are written in Hebrew, contain only minimal information about the present decorations and ribbons. Some older and obsolete items that have become history are not shown. The English versions of these sites contain even less information or are simply incorrect.

One of the reasons for this lack of information may be that the topic of decorating soldiers with medals and ribbons is not popular in Israel and has never been. This does not mean that the history of awarding decorations and insignia of Israel is not very interesting.

Decorations and ribbons for acts since the Independence of Israel

Compared to other countries, Israel instituted very few military decorations and ribbons. For different levels of heroism or extraordinary service, three types of medals and three types of citation ribbons exist. In addition to this, for participation in the wars since 1948, seven campaign ribbons exist, not connected to any medals.

No special ribbons or medals exist for servicemen who were killed, wounded, missed in action, prisoners of war etc. Nor does exist any token for long or good conduct service, except the Operational Service badge (half a year front service).

USA versus Israel

What award does a wounded in combat receive?
What does the family of a soldier killed in action receive?

Purple Heart

Badge for bereaved family


Purple Heart
(for being wounded or killed in action)


Badge for the disabled
(permanent disability
 of at least 25 %)


Badge for bereaved family

The above does not mean that acts of heroism are not appreciated, but in a country with a history of so many wars, for most citizens having fought in a war is more the rule than the exception. Many of my friends in Israel do not remember where they put the campaign ribbons they got. Often they gave them to their kids or threw them away.

Ribbons for acts performed before the Independence of Israel

With the Independence of Israel and the institution of the Israel Defense Forces in 1948, all Jewish underground organizations were abolished. Many of the fighters for the establishment of Israel found their place in the ranks of the IDF. It took about 10 years before a ribbon was instituted to remember participation in the former mainstream Hagana underground defense force. Ribbons for participation in other organizations followed, but official recognition of the more "right wing" underground organizations such as the Etzel and Lechi came only after former Etzel leader Menahem Begin became prime minister of Israel in 1977. Till then these organizations were officially ignored.

Some of the campaign ribbons are still available in shops but finding the service ribbons (for acts done before the Independence of Israel) is much harder. Since these ribbons have become history, I present, where possible pictures of people wearing these ribbons. 

In 2007 the campaign ribbon for the Second Lebanon War was introduced, however only in enamel version. This tin ribbon actually does not deserve the name ribbon but badge.

Some samples of Israeli modesty in wearing military decorations and campaign ribbons


India Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Askenazi


U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Do Israelis care in what order the ribbons are worn?
Actually not. Only in 2002 official guidelines were published for wearing the decorations by civilians and their proper order. Also, guidelines for military exist but many of the pictures shown in this site do not follow these rules. As an example, we show here two pictures of 2012 where the Chief of Staff Benny Gantz wears his two campaign ribbons in different order.

Civilian awards

Israel knows a single state award, the Israel Prize, for excellence in sciences, culture, sports, lifetime achievement or exceptional contribution to the nation. Similar to the military decorations, no levels or "classes" exist in this decoration. The layout of the badge is even more modest.

Samples of highest civilian awards in USA, Netherlands and Israel



USA Netherlands Israel
President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Order of Orange-Nassau Israel Prize

The relation of the Israeli public to decorations
From the written above it may be clear that compared to other countries, the Israeli public shows little interest in the subject of decorations. This makes it extremely hard to find good pictures of men and women wearing decorations. During a 2008 meeting of thousands of veterans of the War of Independence of 1948, only a handful of men appeared with campaign ribbons!

This website presents many pictures and other material that was offered to me for publication by kind people from all over the world. I take the opportunity to thank them again and encourage others to share their knowledge and pictures with me for publication.