The myth promotes Israeli “special forces” in the Gaza Strip

The myth promotes Israeli "special forces" in the Gaza Strip

Then the commander of the Metkal squad, Ehud Barak, second from the left, on the wing of the Belgian plane that was hijacked by Palestinians on its way to Tel Aviv in 1972. The plane was stormed by the Matkal squad. Barak later became Prime Minister of Israel.Reuters photo

Experts assume that the army will rely heavily on the efforts of Sayeret Matkal to free more than 210 hostages in the Gaza Strip. On the instructions of these “special forces”, bombs will be dropped and the army will send its assault forces. Where they can, commandos also take action themselves. according to Telegraph Commandos are ready to carry out “particularly risky” actions. Dutch Brigadier General Han Bouwmeester stated that Israeli commandos are already active in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel itself remains silent.

Sayeret Matkal commandos are trained to eliminate terrorists, free hostages and, for example, penetrate the notorious Hamas tunnels in complete secrecy, behind enemy lines.

About the author
Michel Maas is the foreign editor of the magazine De Volkskrant. He was previously a war correspondent and correspondent in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

The history of the Special Forces dates back to the First Arab-Israeli War in 1948, when the 54th Battalion of the Givati ​​Brigade began operating secretly and in enemy territory. These commandos were nicknamed “Samson’s Foxes”, after the Biblical story in which Samson captured 300 foxes and chased them across enemy Philistine fields with lit torches attached to their tails. The nickname is still sometimes used for Israeli commandos.

Dismantling after murder

The 1950s were the chaotic early years of special operations. Only approximately one death was taken into account at that time, until about sixty Palestinians were killed during infiltrations into Palestinian refugee camps in 1953 and 1954. These actions (led by future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) were condemned around the world, leading to the dismantling of Israel’s first commando unit.

The commandos have not completely disappeared. The famous general with the patch, Moshe Dayan, ordered the men of that unit to be included in the paratroopers. He wanted their experience and spirit to spread throughout the Israeli army from there. It seems that their influence on the Israeli army was great.

General Moshe Dayan (left) in 1973. During his reign, the commando mentality spread in the army.  On the right is Ariel Sharon, later Prime Minister.  Reuters photo

General Moshe Dayan (left) in 1973. During his reign, the commando mentality spread in the army. On the right is Ariel Sharon, later Prime Minister.Reuters photo

In 1957, a new special commando unit, “Unit 154,” was created, to which only the “best and brightest” of young Israelis were recruited. A year later, a group called Sayeret Matkal split up and quickly became the most famous commando unit in Israel.

Sayeret Matkal’s most astonishing act was the liberation of Israeli hostages from Uganda’s Entebbe airport in 1976. The Israeli plane had been hijacked on a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris and, on the hijackers’ orders, landed in Uganda, where it was guarded by troops. Ugandan government. Sayeret Matkal’s men landed in Entebbe, stormed the plane, killed at least six Palestinian terrorists, two German terrorists, and “dozens” of Ugandan soldiers, and took the plane off toward Israel. Three hostages were killed in the operation, and 102 others were released.

Look at the world

One of the commandos was killed in the operation: Commander Yonatan Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu’s older brother. The Prime Minister later said of his brother’s death: “It did not change my view of the world, it only strengthened it.”

Benjamin Netanyahu himself was also a member of Sayeret Matkal. In 1972, he participated in the storming of the hijacked plane at Tel Aviv Airport. Two kidnappers were killed and 90 hostages were freed. Netanyahu was shot in the arm. Its leader during the liberation campaign was also a later Israeli prime minister: Ehud Barak.

However, a commando operation in 1974 went completely wrong. The Palestinians took 115 Israelis hostage, including 105 students, in a school in the town of Maalot. They wanted to exchange them for 23 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Instead of speaking, Sayeret Matkal stormed the building just one day later. The Palestinians killed 25 hostages, almost all of them teenagers, and wounded 68 others during the attack. The “Ma’alot massacre” remains the biggest stain on Sayeret Matkal’s reputation. Since this failure, Sayeret Matkal has only been published abroad, which usually means: in the Palestinian territories.

Irregular warfare

The great example that Sayeret Matkal gives is the British SAS, from which not only the training was borrowed, but even the slogan: “He who dares wins.” The men were trained in the toughest and most secret “irregular warfare”, “black operations”, liberation operations and even murder. According to the The Times of Israel They are detained, mistreated and interrogated for weeks as part of their training.

Units like Sayeret Matkal are not only legendary in Israel, but also very popular. Books have been written about them, which in turn led to films and television series. It’s on Netflix chaos (“Chaos”), similar to Unit 217, is called Duvdevan (“Cherry”). Just like in real life, agents in the series secretly enter Palestinian cities to ruthlessly hunt down terrorists.

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