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Analysis: Israel revives Special Forces unit

23rd June 2017 - 11:00 by Andrew White in London

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in April that it was reviving the Haruv Special Operations Unit following its disbandment in 1974 as part of a wider restructuring of the army.

Today, Haruv is already operational, with the special operations unit scheduled to achieve a full operational capability (FOC) within the next two years, unit officials explained to Shephard.

The deputy commander of Haruv, Capt Ben Eichenthal, described to Shephard on 12 June that the unit was revived in response to emerging requirements across the contemporary operating environment, particularly relating to increased demand for specialist counter-terrorism (CT) missions in and around Israel.

‘The IDF has a need for a special unit capable of operating in Palestinian areas,’ Eichenthal explained while making reference to covert operations in urban and densely populated areas such as the Gaza Strip.

Haruv was disbanded following the culmination of the Yom Kippur War, when it was tasked with a variety of special operations mission sets including long range patrolling and CT missions in the vicinity of Israel’s border with Jordan.

The news of the relaunch of Haruv follows the IDF’s decision to double the size of its Yahalom Special Operations Engineering Unit following a critical report published by the Israeli State Comptroller on 1 March 2017, which called for greater efficiency in regards to tackling underground warfare.

Yahalom maintains responsibility for CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) specific operations in support of other IDF Special Operations Forces as well as conventional units.

The re-formed unit has now been placed under the operational control of the Kfir Brigade which, as the youngest brigade in the IDF order of battle, also specialises in CT and military operations in urban terrain.

The brigade specialises in anti-terror operations and urban combat and stands at the forefront of the IDF’s determined fight against terrorism
IDF Official

Founded in 2005, the Kfir Brigade also includes Nachshon, Shimson, Duchifat, Lavi and Netzah Yehuda force components tasked with conducting CT missions in Judea and Samaria, IDF sources confirmed.

‘The brigade specialises in anti-terror operations and urban combat and stands at the forefront of the IDF’s determined fight against terrorism,’ officials proclaimed.

Currently, Haruv comprises several special operations teams or ‘crews’ which are already conducting live operations in Israel, although Eichenthal was unable to provide further details due to operational security concerns.

However, he did confirm to Shephard that Haruv continued to develop its own selection and training course designed to fill a battalion-sized force with the next two years.


Soldiers from the elite Rimon Battalion, part of the Commando Brigade participating in an all night exercise in the Jordan Valley. (Photo: IDF)

Haruv personnel are expected to not only undergo and pass the IDF’s rigorous infantry training programme but also complete a specialist CT package organised and overseen by Haruv Directing Staff.

‘New crews being drafted now are doing an even longer basic training package for CT and underground warfare and we are slowly adding to that with unique abilities once they are serving with the unit,’ Eichenthal highlighted while referring to new types of weaponry as well as alternative concepts of operation (CONOPS), tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) currently in development by commanders.

‘We are building up to a battalion although it will likely be a bit smaller than a regular infantry battalion,’ he added while describing plans to man the ‘elite’ unit with a total of three special operations companies, each of which will be sub-divided into platoons or ‘crews’.

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