May 11, 2014
Chibok abduction: Jonathan promises to find missing girls as Israel sends anti-terrorism experts
Nigeria Online Newspaper
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said Sunday in Abuja that he was very optimistic that with the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria’s efforts to find and rescue the abducted Chibok girls, success will soon be achieved.
Speaking in a telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu who called this afternoon to convey his country’s sympathy and solidarity with Nigeria, President Jonathan welcomed the offer by Mr. Netanyahu to send a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to assist in the ongoing search and rescue operations.
The President briefed Mr. Netanyahu on actions already being taken by Nigeria’s armed forces and security agencies to locate and rescue the girls, saying that Nigeria would be pleased to have Israel’s globally-acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations.
Mr. Netanyahu who expressed Israel’s total condemnation of the mass abductions, said that the team of experts from his country who will soon arrive in Nigeria, will work in collaboration with teams from the United States and Britain who are already in the country and their Nigerian counterparts to intensify the search for the girls.
He reaffirmed Israel’s willingness to give the government and people of Nigeria all possible support and assistance to overcome terrorism and insecurity.
Ready for the Enemy: IDF Prepares for Hezbollah
Israeli Defense forces
January 10, 2014
The terrorist organization Hezbollah has one clear goal: to destroy Israel and establish a radical Islamic regime in Lebanon. With over 60,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, the terrorist group can strike any part of Israel with continuous, precise attacks. Our central mission is to protect Israeli civilians against this significant threat.
A confrontation with Hezbollah would be highly complex, requiring soldiers to apply unconventional methods of fighting. The terrorist organization has built an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers inside Lebanon. Using Lebanon’s people as human shields, it also places many of its weapons in populated areas, ensuring that counter attacks will strike civilians instead of terrorists. These factors create a complex environment that poses new challenges for IDF soldiers.
Despite these difficulties, the IDF has developed a range of technologies and techniques designed to meet the Hezbollah threat. During a recent exercise, a combat-engineering battalion applied many of these methods, simulating a variety of dangerous scenarios in Lebanon. The battalion’s commander explained that the soldiers must develop expertise in two essential techniques demonstrated during the training.
The first and most dangerous method involves clearing the way for Israeli forces. This task is extremely difficult, since Hezbollah maintains an extensive network of burrows and minefields designed to trap the soldiers in an ambush. To overcome these obstacles, the soldiers use advanced technologies that help them clear the terrain while protecting other troops.
The fighters must also learn to disable explosive devices planted in the battlefield. Many of these devices are located in terrorist strongholds in Lebanese villages. These facilities are full of explosives that endanger the soldiers and Lebanese bystanders, and diffusing these weapons is essential to the IDF’s mission.
The Combat Engineering forces are not the only part of the IDF preparing to confront Hezbollah. In recent months, the IDF Ground Forces ran a joint exercise, combining forces from Artillery, Engineering, the Armored Corps and the IAF. to simulate joint maneuvers in a simulated Hezbollah-controlled village.
Soldiers in the IDF’s Herev Battalion have a unique role to play in the fight against Hezbollah. Many of these Druze soldiers live in villages on the Israel-Lebanon border. The battalion is developing and testing techniques for fighting Hezbollah, based on years of experience operating in Israel’s northern border region.
In light of the imminent threat from Lebanon, the IDF is preparing its forces to encounter a range of challenges. Whether on the ground, in the air, or in the sea, Israel is prepared to confront and neutralize any terrorist threat from the north.
Creme de la Creme: How the IDF Selects the Best of the Best for its Most Elite Units
August 11, 2013
General enlistment for combat soldiers is no easy task. To make it into one of the IDF’s elite units however, requires true greatness. How does one pass the trials for these elite units? According to the man responsible for all physical selection in the IDF, it takes courage, determination, strength and mental toughness.
After another round of nationwide enlistment, the time has come to find soldiers for the Israeli army’s most elite units. In order to be selected among the truly great, soldiers must pass intensive examinations – both mental and physical. We approached Major Danny Ben Dov, the man in charge of physical selections and unit placement for infantry and paratroopers, to learn what it takes to be listed among the best of the best.
You’ve heard about the units: the Yahalom combat engineers, Duvdevan – the unit responsible for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas and Oketz – the elite canine special forces unit. Behind these special units lies a complex placement process. Whether you want to curl up with a German Shepherd, maneuver an advanced UAV, or operate behind enemy lines – the path to achieving this goal is laden with potential pitfalls.
In recent months a new slew of soldiers has reached bases across the country in order to begin their basic training. However, before they could finish lacing up their military boots, practicing telling military time, and getting ready for their first shifts of guard duty, the IDF transfers a select few for special assignments reserved for the very best.
Most units open their doors to potential new recruits, however these young soldiers should take time to seriously consider the proposal, as beyond the acceptance are arduous physical and mental tests specifically designed to push the soldier to the limit.
For those looking to find the secret key to acceptance into these coveted units, the head of physical selections for IDF special units explains which features and attributes assist in weeding out the weak and singling out potential candidates.
“I am responsible for approving all units’ selections based on physical criteria in the IDF,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Certain elite units have particular standards and requests for potential soldiers. They require special characteristics and have a very specific screening process for accepting soldiers into their units.”
However, contrary to what one might think – that all elite units have the same selection criteria – Maj. Ben Dov clarifies that not all unit classifications and soldier requirements are identical to one another.
“The placement of each soldier is chosen based on the nature of the unit itself and the type of combat soldier the unit is looking for,” explained Maj. Ben Dov. The process itself is intricate and includes discussions with the unit’s commanders as well.
“The commanders build their selection process by consulting with us, and then we go through the military’s professional instructions and general requirements,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Part of the varying features we look for are determination and motivation.”
Though physical requirements come most immediately to mind when discussing elite combat units, Maj. Ben Dov maintains that physical strength is not the most significant part in the selection process.
“During the selection process, there are sprinting exercises, lifting exercises and other physical tests, but the main thing is not so much the physical part itself,” he said. “We are looking to see the person after the physical aspect, following these tests. There are all kinds of thinking exercises and lengthy discussions, allowing us to see the candidate’s abilities to think quickly and express him or herself clearly.”
Maj. Ben Dov summarized by explaining that throughout the entire selection process, it is imperative for one to be true to his or her personality traits. “It is important for potential examinees to come prepared both physically and mentally, but most important is to be your true self, because, through the various exercises, we eventually peel through the false stories and get to the true nature of the soldier.”
A Hero with Flying Colors: Meet the founder of the IAF’s International Squadron
As a child, his life was saved by a Dutch family who hid him from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Today, he is an Israel Air Force hero responsible for having saved the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Read the remarkable story of Lt. Col. (res.) Arieh Oz, the founder of the IAF’s International Squadron.
Lt. Col. (res.) Arieh Oz
Arieh Oz was born Harry Klausner in 1936 Nazi Germany. As a young boy, he spent the years between 1942 and 1945 in a Dutch family’s confined attic space in the Netherlands with his 12-year-old sister. “Our father fled to Palestine, and our mother was in hiding somewhere else in the Netherlands,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said. “We had no idea that the other was alive until after the war when the four of us were miraculously able to find each other. Once we all reconnected, we made aliyah to Israel in 1946.”
His first few years of freedom were more difficult than expected. Oz struggled to acclimate to a normal childhood life, a life that required constant interactions with civilization. “When I came to Israel, I was already almost 11 years old. School was difficult since I had never been to school, and I had to learn the Hebrew language from scratch,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said.
Upon completing high school, Oz was accepted into the highly-selective Israel Air Force Flight School, finishing 19th in his class. He earned his pilot’s wings in 1956. As a young soldier in the IDF, Oz served a significant part of his service as a Flight Guide with the Ethiopian Air Force, being sent to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to gain valuable flying experience. He returned to Israel a few years later as a young captain with a glowing letter of recommendation from the commander of the Ethiopian Air Force.
At the time, the IDF was looking to invest in new, larger planes that could fly long distances for both strategic military purposes (bringing in weapons from France and other European countries, for example) and for providing aid to Africa. The IAF found five retired Pan American planes, purchased them, and restored them for military use.
“Now,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said, “they were looking for a commander for these planes.”
Maj. Gen. Ezer Weizman, then commander of the Israel Air Force and later the seventh President of Israel, chose the young Capt. Oz for the job. “Everyone around him told him he could not promote a young, inexperienced captain to the position of lieutenant colonel, which was the minimum rank for an IAF commander, and he responded: ‘I can do anything I want,’” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz recalled, chuckling.
Arieh Oz (center), then Lt. Col., in a meeting with members of the IAF
One Friday evening, Oz received word that Maj. Gen. Weizman wanted to see him. “I go to meet with him, and he asks me plain and simple if I would like to command my own squadron,” Lt. Col. (res.) said. “I looked at him and said: ‘If you can make a soldier with the rank of captain a commander of a squadron, then yes.’ Weizman responded: ‘Congratulations, you’re now a commander of your own squadron.’” Two days later, Capt. Oz became Lt. Col. Oz, founder of what would become the Air Force’s International Squadron.
“From here on out,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said, “it’s a big success story.”
Arieh Oz (center), then Lt. Col., with the founding members of the IAF’s International Squadron
During his four years as the International Squadron’s first commander, Lt. Col. Oz recruited pilots of the highest standard with experience in electronic warfare and he and his troops quickly learned to fly the Pan American planes. “We completed many intricate, complex and difficult missions,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz explained. In contrast to its role today – which is predominantly to provide international aid – the International Squadron’s main goal at the time was to import ammunition and weaponry from France and neighboring countries. “We had three planes operating every week,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said, “two of which flew to France to bring weapons and one of which flew to countries in Africa for aid and assistance.”
Upon his release from the IDF following the 1967 Six-Day War, Lt. Col. (res.) Oz became a pilot with El Al, Israel’s principal airline, quickly rising through the ranks to become El Al’s Director of Flight Operations. While he was no longer actively a part of the IAF, Lt. Col. Oz was recalled on numerous occasions for duty to perform highly specialized and secretive IAF missions.
Today, the International Squadron flies missions overseas to provide global humanitarian aid to countries requiring medical assistance, having traveled everywhere from Japan and Haiti to Ghana and Mexico. “Although the purpose of humanitarian aid as part of the International Squadron came following my departure from the IAF, I was personally involved in two deeply humanitarian and meaningful missions in my life: Operations Entebbe and Solomon,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said.
In 1976, terrorists hijacked Air France Flight 139 and diverted the 248-passenger plane to Entebbe, Uganda, where they kept the passengers as hostages. Lt. Col. (res.) Oz was an expert in African missions from his time with the Ethiopian Air Force, and thus was chosen as one of four pilots called up for the dangerous mission.
July 4th, 1976: Air France passengers released following Operation Entebbe
In a plane loaded with equipment that surpassed the legal flying weight and without proper navigation, Lt. Col. (res.) Oz flew under radar and in tight formation for over seven hours. He was the third of the four IAF planes headed to Entebbe and by the time he approached the landing strip, the terrorists were aware of the operation and darkened the runway, forcing Lt. Col. (res.) Oz to land his aircraft with nothing but the visual guidance of his co-pilot. His calmness, fearlessness and expertise contributed to the rescue of over 100 hostages.
Lt. Col. (res.) Oz’s second mission with the IAF was the 1991 military operation to take Ethiopian Jews to Israel, known as Operation Solomon. “I flew a Jumbo 747 aircraft – the first 747 ever to land in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Lt. Col. (res.) Oz said. “You won’t believe it but I brought, on one plane, 1,087 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. At the time, it was a world record for the most passengers ever on a single aircraft.”
May 24th, 1991: Ethiopian Jews disembarking from a jet plane at an IAF base in Israel following Operation Solomon
When asked about the International Squadron today and its greater focus on humanitarian aid, Lt. Col. (res) Oz said: “It’s extremely important for us to be present whenever and wherever there is a problem around the world. Although the amount of help we provide may at times be limited or modest, our flag will be present everywhere
Halloween is nearly upon us, and the yearly mission of finding a suitable costume has gained strategic importance.Here in the IDF we don’t officially celebrate Halloween, but then arguably we don’t need to—some IDF soldiers wear things during their service which put even the most elaborate ensembles to shame. In honor of Halloween, here are four outfits that trump any holiday costume:
The epitome of stealth.
There are two soldiers in the photo. Try and spot them before they spot y—oops, too late. Oh well. Don’t feel too bad about it; these are elite fighters from the Egoz Unit, who specialize in guerrilla warfare and camouflage. When these guys want to blend in, they go unnoticed by even the most advanced surveillance systems. Here’s an enlarged photo for those still squinting at the screen:
Don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s them.
D-I-Y? Well, start by attending try-outs for the elite units of the IDF, including a battery of grueling fitness tests and interviews. Once in, you’ll undergo several months of training, at the end of which you’ll be an expert at camouflage, stealth fighting, and reconnaissance. And just in time for Halloween, too!
Now you don’t see them… now you don’t either.
Meet the soldiers of the Alpine Unit. These guys are all reservists from top-secret combat units who volunteered, after finishing their service, to defend one of Israel’s most strategic locations: Mt. Hermon, the country’s northernmost point. They undergo special training to learn how to fight in snow and extreme cold. And, of course, how to use their surroundings to their best advantage. Don’t believe us? Check them out in action.
D-I-Y?If you already have an extremely successful track record in one of the IDF’s lesser-known commando units, and have distinguished yourself as a fighter and as a soldier, consider this as an option. Don’t worry, we’ll call you.
3. A Patch of Field
Now that’s fieldwork.
Combat Engineers. They’re something else. Here’s one soldier showing off a summery camouflage suit. Comes in shades of yellow, brown, and tactical victory.
D-I-Y?Start by collecting massive amounts of straw and twigs. Or, apply for a reconnaissance position in the Combat Engineering Corps and model the occassional stealth outfit in the Mitkan Adam military base, in-between work alongside an armored battalion.
Trees haven’t been this deadly since Lord of the Rings.
IDF soldiers need to be able to fight in any terrain—from the desert to thickly forested woodland. See these combat officers training in Israel’s north? Not your average woodsman.
D-I-Y? After several long months of intense physical and mental training in the IDF’s infantry brigades, you’ll become a combat soldier. Another year-long course will make an officer of you, and after some time in the field you’ll be able to join exercises like this. Happy Halloween—IDF Style!
In the Life of a Soldier: Facing Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese Border
by IDF spokesperson
Episode 1 – Facing Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese Border
The area near the Israeli-Lebanese border is beautiful. The rainy season has painted the area green. We’re joining a group from the Herev Battalion, most of whom are Druze soldiers permanently stationed at Israel’s northern border. Their base is only ten meters away from the border. You can clearly see the Lebanese villages on the other side.
These soldiers know every square foot of the area. “We need to be ready to respond at any given time,” says Osama, a company commander. “Our soldiers are brave and willing to give everything for the mission. Our strength is everything we’ve got.” They aren’t playing around – the danger on the northern border is real. “Each of my soldiers is defending his own home,” Osama says. “Almost all of us live less than 30 minutes away from the border. During the Second Lebanon War, in 2006, rockets hit our villages.” We joined the battalion for 24 hours – a day in their lives. Here’s what we saw:
Early Hours of the Morning – Night Patrol
For several soldiers, the day actually starts at nightfall. In the early hours of the morning, the night patrol meets for a briefing. The commander talks about the current threats at the border and peppers his soldiers with questions. He divides the patrol into three teams. We set out.
It’s a windy night – a tree falls and crashes into the border fence. The soldiers are about to remove the tree when a vehicle arrives from the Lebanese side of the border, flashing its lights in our direction.
We leave the area, and inspect every inch of the road. “This road is very dangerous,” says the patrol commander. “We’re in a valley, a vulnerable position to be in. We don’t stay here long, but it’s still part of the patrol area.”
The group continues its patrol, and repeats the same route several times. Another group replaces them a few hours later.
As Dawn Breaks – The War Room
In each military base there’s a room that never sleeps – the war room. All information about the area passes through here: positions of ground forces, commands and intelligence. If individual companies in the field are the arms and legs, this would be the brain. There is one soldier on duty from midnight to midday. He must react quickly to requests and control the information flowing in at all times.
“Serving in a war room isn’t a job for every combat soldier, but it’s vital for the people who are out there fighting,” he says. “Even during the dead of night, when everything is pitch-black, I need to have a clear grasp of the situation on the ground.”
Early Afternoon – Training Time
Some soldiers wake up early for base cleanup, and some are allowed to continue sleeping. In the early afternoon, a select group of the soldiers on base begin training for a reconnaissance mission due to take place in the coming days.
Members of a tank crew clean and fix their equipment, then gradually turn on the heavy engines. Close by, Herev combat soldiers practice short-distance shooting. Near the base, a reconnaissance force is also training. The force includes a handful of soldiers, including a member of the Oketz canine unit and his dog. The dog goes first into the field and sniffs out any explosives in the way.
Meanwhile the commander reminds the soldiers of the different types of hazards they might encounter and the different ways to deal with them. Everyone is aware that the next time they go out, it won’t be a drill.
Evening – On Guard
We join Adam, a combat soldier in the Herev battalion. He’s in the middle of guard duty – namely, watching over the boundaries of the base. It’s a job that demands constant alertness. He needs to make sure that nobody climbs the fence and that the base isn’t under threat. As the hours of his shift pass, the sun sets and the wind begins to get colder. A large part of these soldiers’ duty is guarding – guarding borders, bases, land, people. The threats may not always be noticeable, but they’re always present. Adam knows this. He stays sharp.
Night – Last-Minute Briefing
Dinner. The soldiers eat, never missing an opportunity to thank the chef who cooks for all 60 of them every day. Sometimes, a good chef can make or break a battalion. Afterwards, the mission team gather for a last briefing before heading out. Attendance is mandatory, especially for members of the various recon squads. The mission has to be coordinated between all forces. Moreover, each of them has his own field of expertise, and all opinions are important. The mission commander doesn’t hesitate and tackles his soldiers with questions this time around, too. There is no room for error during the mission.
Later On – End of Guard Duty
Adam finishes his guard duty and goes straight to rest in his room. His quarters are, in essence, a big bunker, windowless and without natural light. From inside, it’s difficult to tell what time of day it is. His neighbors, soldiers from other rooms, come in to talk, trade jokes, and ask if the guard duty went well. Before he talks to us, Adam calls his brothers, whom he has not seen in over a month. “We’re triplets, and we all serve in the Herev battalion,” he tells us afterwards.
“Basically, only one of us was supposed to serve as a combat soldier,” Adam says. “The folks at Human Resources told us that the other one was supposed to serve in a desk job, and the third didn’t have to join the IDF at all. But it was obvious that each of us would want to become the combat soldier, and serve in the battalion. We all did.”
Adam doesn’t regret his choice. He enjoys every moment of his service – or at least most of them. “Ever since I was little, I always dreamt of becoming an officer in the IDF,” he says.
Even though the soldiers all speak Arabic at home, when it comes to the army, they make sure to speak Hebrew as a matter of principle. “We also speak Hebrew to other soldiers who arrive at the base, like the tank crews and field intelligence people. It enables us to get to know them better and have a laugh together. Our origins and language are never an issue.”
When he comes home from the army on weekends, if he’s lucky, Adam will see his brothers and father, a career soldier himself. Matching up weekends in the army is something of an art form.
“Usually, I wash up and go out with friends, at least the ones who are home that weekend,” says Adam. “On Friday evening, everyone comes to the village’s bar, The Friends Meetup Place. It’s fun to sit around with friends before a game of snooker or a good soccer game. I wish I could continue with my Judo training, but I don’t have time for that with my military service. It’s a shame – my brothers and I all had black belts. We’ll continue our training after we’re done with our service. For us, Israel comes first.”
Adam’s determination is unmissable. He hopes to continue as a career soldier in the army, like his father, so he can stay in service. His story is only one among many – stories of Israeli teens in uniform who guard Israel day and night.
Cpl. Lolly took an active part in defending Tel-Aviv from incoming Hamas rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense. Lolly, a lone soldier who was born in France, was stationed at the Iron Dome battery in charge of defending Tel-Aviv skies during the Operation. Lolly protected the lives of over 1.5 million Israeli citizens during the eight days of the operation, as she operated the Iron Dome system and intercepted incoming rockets threatening the city.
“From the minute I heard about the Iron Dome system, it was clear to me that is where I’ll serve, taking an active part in protecting the lives of Israeli citizens.”
IDF cyber-defense control center goes online
February 13, 2013
Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin was one of the IDF’s most admired leaders and one of Israel’s most memorable prime ministers. He joined the Palmach (the elite fighting force of the underground Jewish army, Haganah, during the British Mandate for Palestine) in 1941. Rabin commanded some of the most impressive operations in Israeli military history, including assisting the Allied invasion of Lebanon in 1941, directing Israeli operations in Jerusalem during the War of Independence, disrupting Egyptian control of the Sinai Peninsula during that war and forcing the Egyptian government to negotiate a truce.
In 1964, Rabin was appointed Chief of the General Staff and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. In June 1967, he successfully led IDF forces in the Six Day War.
Before the start of the war, Egyptian forces had begun to accumulate in the Sinai region and tensions increased. At the time, Egypt ordered the withdrawal of UN forces from the Sinai Peninsula and blocked Israel’s shipping access to the the Straits of Tiran. Egypt solidified its alliances with Syria and Jordan, while threatening Israel with war.
War was imminent, but Lt. Gen. Rabin’s confidence in the IDF’s abilities spread to all the citizens of Israel. Victory became the only option. He called up reserve forces and, on the morning of June 5, 1967, he began an operation that enlisted most of the IDF – air, ground, and navy forces. Within just six days, Israel had won a decisive land war. Israeli forces took control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Following the Six-Day War, the triumphant Lt. Gen. Rabin said the following during his famous speech on Mount Scopus:
“The world has recognized the fact that the Israel Defense Forces differs from other armies. Although its first task is the military task of ensuring security, the Israel Defense Forces undertakes numerous tasks of peace, tasks not of destruction but of construction and of the strengthening of the nation’s cultural and moral resources. The Six-Day War revealed many instances of heroism… the IDF soldier was revealed as heroic in spirit, in courage and in perseverance, which can leave no one who has witnessed this great and exalting human endeavor indifferent.”
Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu
Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had a long and meaningful journey throughout his years in the IDF. He commanded a company of paratroopers during the 1967 Six Day War, his battalion fought and defeated Egyptian forces in the Battle of Abu-Ageila in Sinai, and he participated in the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt from 1967-1970.
In the early 1970s, Lt. Col. Netanyahu joined the Sayaret Matkal (Israeli Special Forces) unit and, in the summer of 1972, was appointed as the unit’s deputy head commander. That year, he commanded a raid in which senior Syrian officials were captured and exchanged for captive Israeli pilots, known as Operation Crate 3. Following the Six Day War, Lt. Col. Netanyahu was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service, Israel’s third highest military decoration, for his conduct during wartime.
Following the war, Lt. Col. Netanyahu saw the IDF Armored Corps suffer heavy casualties and volunteered to serve as as an armor commander. He was given command of the Barak Armored Brigade, transforming it into the leading military unit in the Golan Heights.
In 1975, Lt. Col. Netanyahu returned to Sayeret Matkal, following his stint in the Armored Corps. He fell in battle on July 4, 1976, while commanding Operation Entebbe, his first operation upon returning to Sayeret Matkal. In that mission, considered one of the most successful anti-terror operations in history, the IDF rescued hostages at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, where an Air France flight had been forced to land after being hijacked by terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Lt. Col. Netanyahu led the team that directly stormed the airport terminal. The operation, which had taken a week to plan, took 53 minutes to carry out and rescued 103 hostages. Lt. Col. Netanyahu was the only Israeli soldier killed during the raid. The operation itself was considered a success by Israel, and was later renamed Operation Yonatan in honor of Lt. Col. Netanyahu.
Lt. Gen. Moshe Levi
Lt. Gen. Moshe Levi served in the Golani and Paratroopers Brigades before being appointed as the IDF’s 12th Chief of General Staff in 1983. During his time commanding the IDF, Lt. Gen. Levi presided over the IDF’s withdrawal in Lebanon in 1985 and oversaw the redeployment of Israeli troops and the creation of the security zone in southern Lebanon.
Lt. Gen. Levi helped found the IDF Ground Forces Command, creating the Nahal Brigade and reestablishing the Givati Brigade.
Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak
Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak joined the IDF in 1959, serving for 35 years. During his service as commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal, he led several notable operations, including Operation Isotope – a rescue mission that freed hostages aboard Sabena flight 571 at Lod Airport. He was also the key architect of Operation Entebbe. These operations led to the dismantling of the Palestinian terror organization Black September.
Later, Lt. Gen. Barak served as head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, head of the Central Command, and, from 1991 until 1995, Chief of the General Staff. During this period, he initiated the implementation of the 1993 Oslo Accords and participated in the negotiations towards the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, which was signed in 1994.
During his service in the IDF, Lt. Gen. Barak was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service and four Chief of Staff citations for his courage and operational excellence, making him the most decorated soldier in Israel’s history.
Lt. Gen. Barak was a charismatic and innovative leader. As a commander, he was known to inspire confidence and courage in the soldiers under his command.
Maj. Gen. Tal Russo
Maj. Gen. Tal Russo was one of the most respected members of the General Staff. Upon his enlistment, he served in the Israeli Air Force special forces unit, Shaldag. He was discharged in 1981 but returned a year later to command a squad during the 1982 Lebanon War.
During the 2006 Lebanon War, Maj. Gen. Russo served as the Assistant to the Head of the Operations Directorate in special missions. Following the war, Maj. Gen. Russo was appointed head of the Operations Directorate.
Before his retirement in April 2013, Maj. Gen. Russo served as GOC Southern Command, overseeing the successful 2012 operation Pillar of Defense. After persistent rocket attacks from Gaza, the IDF launched an operation to cripple the Hamas terror infrastructure and ensure the security of Israel’s citizens. After targeting Ahmed Jabari, commander of Hamas’ military wing, the IDF destroyed over 1,500 terrorist targets.
Hamas tried to launch rockets into the Israeli domestic front, including the highly populated cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But Israel’s Iron Dome active defense system protected the home front, intercepting over 400 incoming missiles. Maj. Gen. Russo recommended calling up many reserve units. Although the ground forces did not enter the Gaza Strip, Maj. Gen. Russo’s recommendation prepared Israel for the possibility of ground combat.
After eight days of operations, a ceasefire agreement came into effect. The IDF had achieved its predetermined objectives for Operation Pillar of Defense and caused severe damage to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.
Maj. Gen. Russo also played an integral role in the planning and construction of the proposed fence on Israeli-Egyptian border, which has helped prevent the infiltration of terrorists.