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The IDF as you’ve never seen it before

WATCH: IDF special forces units are some of the best in the world and are prepared to defend Israel against any and all threats; Watch as these elite soldiers train to keep Israel and all her citizens safe.

Yossi Yehoshua

Occasionally, foreign media outlets publish reports of a mysterious explosion that occurred in a neighboring country, the elimination of a terrorist organization’s senior leader, a convoy of trucks going up in flames. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a secret operational world which operates almost every night in different locations.

פרוייקט צילומים של יחידות מיוחדות בתמונה לוטר אילת מתאמנים על מלון הנסיכה המאיים על ידי מחבלים המלון נמצא על גבול ישראל מצרים   מוסף עצמאות

פרוייקט צילומים של יחידות מיוחדות בתמונה לוטר אילת מתאמנים על מלון הנסיכה המאיים על ידי מחבלים המלון נמצא על גבול ישראל מצרים מוסף עצמאות

It appears that the best of the IDF’s fighters are undergoing rigorous training programs for positions in elite commando units, enabling the IDF to operate deep in enemy territory without leaving traces. This activity takes place around the clock, even on days when the IDF makes headlines with internal disputes between generals and the political echelon, as has been the case in recent weeks.

Upon becoming chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot acted to strengthen the type of force which he has been advocating for many years, the essence of which is to use force only when all alternatives have been exhausted. Only then does Eisenkot favor the deployment of considerable power in the least expected places and crippling the enemy’s motivation and abilities to retaliate.

Eisenkot made history when he merged four elite units—Maglan, Duvdevan, Egoz and Rimon—into one brigade in an effort to increase the effectiveness of these units.

As Israel just celebrated its 68th Independence Day, Ynet presents a special photographic exhibition of these four elite units in action. The pictures, taken by photographer Gadi Kabalo, illustrate the operational workings of the units, as well as those which constitute the vanguard of the IDF.

The successes of the IDF’s elite units are attained by the soldiers’ professional capabilities, but no less so by virtue of a combination of intelligence obtained from new sources which have emerged over of the past decade and cyber and satellite technology. Even without divulging the specifics of the units’ operations, it is clear that recent intelligence gathering has catered for the infiltration into terrorist organizations and for the gathering of information in a way that was once known only in spy movies.

The IDF, at each recruitment cycle, selects the best and puts some of them in the elite units. Some go to the most advanced technological units in the world. The army thus creates a combat team out of thin air which begins by collecting high quality intelligence information, continues with the building up of an operational framework, and ends with the best commandos in the world operating in secrecy and determination who surprise our enemies in places and at times unimaginable to them.

The IDF of Israel’s 68th Independence Day is a sophisticated army with special forces units and an intelligence service that is the envy of the best armies in the world, which allow for quiet to exist even when we are surrounded by storms.

We are privileged to get a rare glimpse of some of these units through the the images that appear herein, photos which enable us to get a slight understanding of the secret world that is in operation throughout the year and will be once again next year.

Most of the people in these photographs—those playing backgammon, drinking coffee or buying goods in the market—are actually soldiers or military officers, fighters in the elite special forces Duvdevan unit. You may know them by the name “mista’aravim” (Israeli soldiers disguised as Arabs).

Duvdevan is the real thing. These fighters pay attention to the smallest details, know how to blend in, and appear as if they completely belong in a given environment, until the moment they are needed to carry out their mission.

“For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war” is the eternal motto of the unit. Unlike many other special forces units, their fighters don’t only operate just under darkness and gloom, but also use deception while in the heart of a population, in the midst of events—it’s there that they have to prove how quick and precise one can operate.

The Duvdevan unit was established in 1986 with the understanding that there was a need for a precise and intelligent fighting method to carry out arrests in densely populated areas. The unit’s fighters have been meeting this need for almost 30 years, and is a significant component of the fight against the current wave of terrorism.

Many of the recent significant arrests can be credited to them, including the arrest of those who murdered the Heinkin couple,Dafna Meir, and Rabbi Litman and his son, among many others.

Disrupting the silence

Atlit fortress has known generations of fighters. For centuries it kept the secrets of many warriors, various armies, distant epochs and mysterious operations. Today, its remains constitute the main training zone for Shayetet 13, Israeli Naval commandos. Atlit base is Shayetet 13’s fighters’ home throughout their service. It is there where they are confirmed as fighters, where they train, whence they go on their secret missions, and whither they return after days of action.

We accompanied the fighters as they trained for their main tactical mission: raiding. They emerge silently from the water, equipped with advanced weapons and raid the fort, which resembles an enemy structure.


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