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Naval Flags (Israel)

Sea Force, Heyl Ha'yam

Last modified: 2011-03-11 by andrew weeks
Keywords: sea force (israel) | heyl ha'yam | triangle: hoist (white) | star: 6 points (blue outlined) | anchor (white) | wings (white) | sword (white) | branch: olive | wreath: olive | unidentified flag |
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[War Ensign (Israel)] 2:3
Naval Ensign
image by Željko Heimer
Flag adopted 19th May 1948

See also:

Naval Ensign

The flag is used by Israeli Navy, being a blue flag with white triangle at hoist and blue Magen David in it. Proportions are 2:3.
Željko Heimer
, 1 April 1996

The Commander of the Navy flag is the Navy Ensign with a device. The device is a sword with an olive branch and an anchor.
Nahum Shereshevsky
, 8 May 1998

The plates I copied from Ministry of Defence 1974 are not in color. They are shown in black, white, and gray. (...) The Magen David on the command flags is shown in the same black as the field, while the Magen David on the naval ensign is shown as gray.
Joseph McMillan
, 7 November 2000

Israel naval ensign and pennant appear in this picture from the Israel Navy website.
Dov Gutterman
, 18 August 2001

Taking the same Magen David shape as in the national flag, if one makes the outer triangles' sides 32 cm, the width of the stripes would be approximately 3.079 cm, which is close enough to 3 cm to assume that the legislation is defining the same star. If I am not much mistaken, the center of gravity of the triangle would match exactly with a point separated from the hoist 1/4 of the flag's height.
Željko Heimer
, 7 February 2002

Masthead Pennant

image by Željko Heimer, 20 April 2006

The pennant is shown in the French Navy "Album 2000" [pay00] in its Correction 2 [pay02]. The report of it there is I believe from Dov's observation in photos of Israeli ships and as far as I am aware he has no confirmation on its status as yet.
For the same reason, the dimensions are to be considered provisional, too - I followed Album 2000, which in turn made an approximation from photos, I am pretty sure.
Željko Heimer, 20 April 2006

Flag Legislation

Since the day of the Declaration of Independence of Israel (14 May 1948) and until the first Knesset [parliament] was elected and assembled, Israel was governed by The Provisional Council of State by way of issuing Ordenances and Proclamations. Those proclamations had only temporary force, and were supposed to be adapted into Acts of the Knesset to achieve constant status as forceable legislation.

Such was the case of the Proclamation about the National Flag —re-adopted by The Flag and Emblem Act which still is in force— and the Proclamation about the Merchant Fleet Flag [i.e. civil ensign] —readopted by The Ships (Nationality and Flag) Act, later to be replaced by The Maritime (Vessels) Act—. Those Proclamations (and Ordenances) are not included in the Sefer ha-Hukim —Book of Laws, the section of the Reshumot or official gazzete in which new laws are published— and were published in Iton Rishmi ('official gazzette') which was soon after replaced by the Reshumot.

While searching the Iton Rishmi for the proclamation concerning the Merchant Fleet Flag, I stumbled upon another and most interesting proclamation. This proclamation was not adopted by an Act of the Knesset and therefore has no official status today, however it is certainly a guideline. My translation, remarks in brackets:

The Provisional Council of State
Proclamation about the War Fleet Flag

The provisional Council of State hereby proclaims that the flag of the war fleet of the State of Israel is as drawn and described hereafter:
The flag – its length 180 cm, its width 120 cm, its background dark sky-blue [as in the national flag and civil ensign] with a white triangle with two equal sides, whose top lies in the centre of the flag and its base coincides with the wide side at the hoist. In the triangle, a Magen David with its centre in the centre of gravity of the triangle, made of six sky-blue stripes forming two equilateral triangles, each stripe 32 cm in length and 3 cm in width.


Provisional Council of State
David Ben-Gurion, Chairman
10 Iyar 5708 (19 May 1948)

Note that the war ensign was adopted and proclaimed only 5 days after the declaration of Independence, while the national flag was adopted and proclaimed only on 28 October 1948.
Dov Gutterman
, 9 September 2001

Ceremonial Colour of the Navy ?

[Israeli Naval UFE]
image by Ian Shrallow

The gold thing is the Israel Navy crest. This flag is still in use today. It is the formal flag and is rarely flown.
Ian Shrallow
, 30 April 1999

Interesting flag. The navy ensign defaced with the navy cap badge. I never saw that flag. I live in Haifa which is the main Israeli navy base so I see most ensigns but never saw this one. The image sent by Ian could be a rank flag. Rank flags and unit/vessel flags are like the naval ensign with an emblem on the lower fly. According to my source (Israel Army History, Ministry of Security) the Naval branch flag is as I described, but who knows... maybe the source is mistaken.
Dov Gutterman
, 13 May 1999

Zvi Ruder says that it is the ceremonial colour of Israeli Navy.
Nahum Shereshevsky
, 25 May 1999

Ceremonial Flag

Checking photos at IDF archive site, I stumbled on a photo showing the navy ceremonial flag used in the 50'.
The photo show Israel first PM, David Ben-Guriun in a parade.
The flag is the naval ensign with navy emblem at the fly which consist of anchor (combined with sword) and olive branch. The upper inscription is Tzva Hagana Le'Israel (IDF) and the lower: Heyl Ha-Yam (lit. Force of the Sea).
Source: <>.
Dov Gutterman, 17 February 2005

Naval Museum

The Maritime Museums complex in Haifa is situated right next to the west most point of Mount Carmel and is combined of two museums: The Municipal Maritime Museum, which is dedicated to the history of maritime trade in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea.and the IDF Naval Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the illegal immigration to Israel during the British Mandate, and the history of the Naval Forces of Israel.
The Israeli Navy was founded in 1948 when few ships of the "shadow fleet" (illegal immigration ships that were caught by the British and kept at Haifa Port) were modified to carry some old pieces of field artillery in order to make them "gun boats". Together with few explosive-boats that were purchased in Italy, they made the modest Israeli navy.
During the 1950's, all the "fleet" was decommissioned and replaced with two ex-WWII British destroyers (Yafo and Elat [sunk in the late 60' by the Egyptian Navy]) that together with a captured Egyptian destroyer (Ibrahim el-Awal, renamed: Haifa)  became Flotilla No. 1 (a.k.a the destroyers flotilla).
Two ex-WWII British submarine (Tanin and Rahav) were also purchased and were later replaced by three other ex-WWII British submarine (Leviathan, Daker [lost on its maiden voyage to Israel] and Dolphin).
Three ex-WWII Canadian frigates (Mivtakh, Miznak and Misgav) were also served for a short period before sold to Sri-Lanka.
During the late 1960', there was a change in attitude and it was decided to purchase only new and modern vessels from now on.
The first new "missile-boats" (Sa'ar Mk. I) were built in France, held there by the French embargo after Six-Day War, and were smuggled in a secret overnight operation.
Today, the Navy operate a variety of vessels: Missile fregates (Flotilla 3), Submarines (Flotilla 7) and petrol craft (Sqs. 914-916) as well as various auxiliary ships.
Also there is the famous Flotilla 13 (naval commando).
At the museum itself there are many naval ensigns. There is also a British white ensign (probably "borrowed" from a British Torpedo Boat), a pennant (officially "active service standard") and quite many triangular decoration flag with the general shape of the naval ensign and charged with the ships emblems.
I noted that when an old ship name is retain in a new ship, it also retain its emblem.
Also I noted the emblem of INS Haifa is based on the municipal emblem. I guess that the "real" flotillas, squadrons and ships flags are the regular naval ensign with the appropriate emblem on lower fly.
Dov Gutterman, 1 September 2008