GADNA (Heb. גַּדְנַ״ע; abbr. for גְּדוּדֵי נֹעַר, Gedudei No'ar; "Youth Corps"), Israel government youth movement for training 13- to 18-year-olds in defense and national service. Gadna, whose membership is voluntary, functions in high schools and youth clubs. It trains its members in firsthand knowledge of Israel's geography and topography, physical fitness, marksmanship, scouting, field exercises, comradeship, teamwork, and mutual aid. It is administered by the Gadna Command which functions in the framework of the Israel Defense Forces and the Ministry of Defense and cooperates with the Ministry of Education and Culture. The corps may be activated in an emergency by special permission of the chief of staff.
In addition to regular training, Gadna organizes route marches for 16-year-olds, sharpshooting clubs with nationwide contests on Lag ba-Omer, and an international Bible contest for youth. In its air section (Gadna-Avir) youngsters construct model planes, study aviation, and practice gliding, under the direction of Air Force officers. In the naval section (Gadna-Yam) naval officers teach swimming, rowing, sailing, navigation, diving, and underwater fishing. There is a Gadna orchestra, which has played abroad. During vacations third-year high school students go to Gadna work and training camps in border settlements and immigrant villages, or participate in national service projects in landscape improvement, archaeological excavation, and assistance in hospitals. The corps also helps to reeducate and reintegrate delinquent youth.
Gadna, established in 1948, was the successor to Ḥagam (Ḥinnukh Gufani Murḥav; "Extended Physical Training"), which was founded in 1939, and Alummim, a general organization for the 14- to 18-year-old group. Its purpose, defined by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion in 1949, was "training for peace and not for war." In 1951 a Gadna training farm was set up at *Be'er Orah in the Negev, followed by others at Nurit in the Gilboa Hills, and at *Sedeh Boker and Keẓiot in the Negev. In the early 1950s Gadna youngsters went out to help newcomers in immigrant villages and introduce them to Israeli life through Hebrew lessons, Israel songs, and games. Gadna's work has been of interest to visitors from African and Asian countries, and a Gadna delegation traveled to Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia in 1959. The first Gadna course for youth from Africa and Asia was organized in 1961, and Gadna instructors were later sent to various countries. In 1968 a Gadna unit was organized for *Druze youth. The corps published a monthly newspaper Be-Maḥaneh Gadna ("In the Gadna Camp").
During the Sinai Campaign of 1956 and the Six-Day War of 1967, Gadna youngsters effectively replaced personnel in the postal system, civil defense, schools, hospitals, industry, and agriculture. Subsequently Gadna operated mainly in school frameworks. In some schools, Gadna is part of the curriculum, while others send students for a week to Gadna military camps that prepare them for military service, including weapons training and discipline. Different military branches run their own Gadna groups, such as the Air Force and Navy.
E. Shomroni, Maggal va-Ḥerev (19552), 7–22, 159; Israel Year Book (1949– ).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.