When it comes to covert operations, Israel has got some serious game. Their Special Forces are a league of highly-trained units working on home turf and beyond. These guys handle everything from intelligence gathering to counter-terrorism and high-stakes rescue missions. But are they the best on the planet? That’s for you to decide.
Israel’s Special Forces – What Makes Them Tick? These elite units have a history that goes way back, even before Israel officially became a country in 1948. During the 1920s, violence erupted between Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine, and the British weren’t exactly eager to step in. This pushed Jewish citizens to form underground resistance movements, with the most effective one being the Haganah. Fast forward to 1941, and the Haganah had its own underground Special Forces Units known as the Smash Companies. These covert operators were busy acquiring and moving weapons to protect the Jewish population until the birth of Israel.
The first Prime Minister of Israel, Ben-Gurion, decided to transform the Haganah into the IDF in 1948, and the Smash Companies were no longer needed. But in 1953, Ben-Gurion saw the need for a specialized force, leading to the establishment of Israel’s first Special Forces Unit – Commando Unit 101. Although it had some operational hiccups and was disbanded, it left a lasting legacy that still influences the IDF today.
Shortly after, the Sayeret Matkal, akin to the British Special Air Service, emerged as the next big thing. This elite unit took on dangerous missions in enemy territory, proving its mettle in the 1960s and early 1970s. Post the 1967 Six-Day War, it adapted to deal with the rise of Arab terrorism.
Why Are Israel’s Special Forces Different? Israel’s precarious position, surrounded by adversaries, led to a unique setup. Unlike most national defense organizations, Israel doesn’t have one centralized Special Operations Force. Instead, their Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Northern Command, and Military Intelligence Directorate each have their own independent special forces units. The Ground Forces alone have four special forces units: Duvdevan, Maglan, Egoz, and Rimon. And there are more operational units like Oketz, Unit 669, Shayetet 13, and the famous Sayeret Matkal. But the IDF doesn’t stop there; they have specialized forces within their land, air, and naval divisions.
The Big Players – Sayeret Matkal and Duvdevan Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s poster boy of Special Forces, specializes in counter-terrorism and hostage rescues outside Israel’s borders. One of its most legendary missions was the 1976 Operation Thunderbolt at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport. They rescued over 100 Air France passengers whose plane had been hijacked by terrorists, with minimal casualties.
Duvdevan, on the other hand, is all about high-risk and complex operations. Their covert actions in the West Bank serve as the inspiration for the Netflix series “Fauda.” These soldiers use modified civilian vehicles and blend into urban areas to carry out arrests, raids, targeted assassinations, kidnappings, and other urban warfare operations.
So, what do you think? Are Israel’s Special Forces truly the ultimate warriors? The stage is set, and it’s time for you to be the judge.