Egoz Reconnaissance Unit
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The Egoz Special Force Unit (Hebrew: יחידת אגוז, Yehidat ʿEgoz) is an Israeli Special Force commando unit, in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Egoz is a unit that specializes in guerrilla, anti-guerrilla warfare, behind enemy lines intelligence gathering, over the border raids, and more complicated ground activity. Egoz is part of the Commando Brigade but still completes basic training with the Golani Brigade.
Before the year 2000, Egoz operated mainly in Israel's Northern Command, combating threats from Hezbollah. Following Israel's withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, its operations were moved to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2003 and 2004, Egoz prevented more terrorist acts than any other IDF unit.
Service in Egoz
At the completion of training, Egoz soldiers began their service as Special Force operators. They begin training for special operations that occur mostly in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Syria. Their missions include over the border intelligence gathering, arrests and intelligence gathering in the West Bank, and over the border kidnappings of terrorists. These operations are done in teams of around 15-20 soldiers and are highly classified. The IDF keeps the unit's missions a secret and gives no information about the unit or the operations in which the unit takes part.
The Egoz Unit was founded in 1956 as a special forces unit (sayeret), but was disbanded and re-organized in 1964 due to a friendly fire incident. After the Six-Day War, it became a battalion. It was disbanded again following the Yom Kippur War due to manpower shortages in other units, and re-formed in 1995 as an anti-guerrilla unit (company).The initial fighters came from the Paratroopers "Orev" unit. The unit's first commander was Erez Zuckerman, who spent most of is military career as a soldier and an officer at Shayetet 13, Israeli Navy Special forces. As a result, much of the discipline, tactics and professionalism come from the Navy Commandos, and are the foundations upon which the unit was built on. Zuckerman led the unit in a series of counter-guerrilla operations in South Lebanon that resulted a great number of Hezbollah operatives killed. In September 1996 Zuckerman commanded a force from the unit in an operation at Sujud ridge. The force encountered and killed three Hezbollah operatives while suffering two dead and a several injured soldiers. In the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict, five members of the Egoz Unit were killed and six wounded in Maroun al-Ras, after they were hit by an anti-tank missile. Around 20 members of Hezbollah were killed.
In Operation Protective Edge, three members of the Egoz Unit were killed during activities within the Gaza Strip. On July 21, in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, forces from the Egoz unit engaged and killed ten Hamas operatives, including one who detonated a suicide vest.
Training starts with basic training and advanced training within the Golani Brigade. At the completion of this 4-month period the trainees begin their training in Egoz. Each Egoz soldier goes through extensive interrogations and interviews by Israeli intelligence to determine if he should be screened out from the second phase of training. Those that continue with the unit after this phase then start the highly intensive 12-month training program with Egoz. The training program in Egoz is known to be one of the hardest programs in the IDF and many recruits drop out due to the harsh nature of the program.
The second phase is a three-month period where soldiers are brought to the physical and mental fitness that will be needed for the rest of training. The soldiers then complete courses in camouflage warfare, reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, various kinds of assaults, and extensive land navigation. Egoz is one of four units in the Israel Defense Forces that complete long range solo navigations. Every soldier in Egoz then completes the commanders course as well as other highly classified courses. At the end of the year and a half of training the soldiers embark on the 100 kilometer end of training march where the soldiers will receive the Egoz pin.
- "IDF to unite elite units in new commando brigade". ynet. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
- Yiftah S. Shapir and Gal Perl Finkel, Subterranean Warfare: A New-Old Challenge, a chapter inside "The Lessons of Operation Protective Edge", eds. Anat Kurz and Shlomo Brom, INSS, 2014.
- ynet (Hebrew)