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Since October 7th, the world has been shocked by horrific images of the latest conflict in and around the Gaza Strip. Besides being sobered by these images, some motorheads also look closer at Israel’s military vehicles and ask, “Wait, do they drive Jeep SUVs?” The truth is that much of Israel’s military hardware is imported from the U.S., such as its Humvees it buys from AM General. Israel is unique in that it drives a military-spec Jeep Wrangler called the “Storm,” assembled in Upper Nazareth under license from Chrysler Corporation/Stellantis.

One of the only modern military Jeep Wranglers: Israel’s AIL Storm

IDF troops in an open-top military Jeep driving to Gaza during the Hamas conflict.
IDF troops | Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Jeep Wrangler is very much a military-inspired vehicle, which the U.S. military doesn’t actually use. This is because the Wrangler is an evolution of the civilian Jeep (CJ) series, which is in turn was just a slight departure from the Willys Overland Quad the Allies used in WWII. But while the ragtop 4×4 is one of the most popular off-roading vehicles around, the U.S. Army has moved on to larger vehicles, such as the Humvee.

But the Israeli Defense Force saw benefits in having some Jeeps in its fleet. Automotive Industries Ltd is an Israeli-based automaker. It has built several Jeeps based on older Willys designs. Beginning in 1990, AIL partnered with Chrysler Corporation to engineer an all-new military Jeep.

The resulting AIL Storm is a heavy-duty Wrangler with a Volkswagen turbodiesel. As it moved from the Mark I through the Mark III, it evolved alongside the civilian Wrangler: from square headlights to round and from a two-door to a four-door. Older models are even available to Israeli civilians. The Israeli Defense Force has approximately three-hundred of these military-spec Jeeps in service.

The Israeli Defense Force moved to replace its military Jeeps with Humvees

The silhouette of a Humvee military Jeep with an Israeli soldier in the gunner position.
IDF Humvee | Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The IDF also has more than 2,000 Humvees. These are HMMWV vehicles purchased from AM General, just like the U.S. Military uses. Israel tried to get a contract for AIL to build its Humvees, but could not. This may be a major reason it still orders a Jeep-Wrangler-based military vehicle.

Today, many of the military “Jeeps” that the Israeli Defense Force uses are not Wrangler-based, but are true Humvees. This is why they are one of the main vehicles you see in pictures of the current Israel-Hamas conflict. But the IDF is looking to replace its Hummers with a domestically-built Jeep. The frontrunner for this contract is in no way based on the Jeep Wrangler.

A Land Rover Defender lookalike may replace Israel’s military Jeep Wranglers

MDT David and AIL Wolf Jeeps | Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

One of AIL’s main competitors is MDT Armor Corporation. It has developed an all-new “ultra-light armored personnel carrier” to replace the Storm. The MDT David has a familiar grille; it is based on the Land Rover Defender. But that is not the only inspiration for the David.

MDT calls its platform a combination of the Land Rover Defender and Toyota Land Cruiser platforms. In fact, the IDF can order the MDT David with an I4 turbodiesel from either the Land Rover Defender or the Toyota Land Cruiser. Both are paired with a manual transmission.

The IDF has been using the MDT David since 2007. It currently has about 400 of them in service. That is why this Land Rover lookalike is the third military “Jeep” that you’ll see the IDF driving in pictures from the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

Next, read about the history of Cummins and the Russian Army, or see Israel’s AIL Storm for yourself in the video below: