Meet the Commando Unit assigned to Combat Hamas Terror Tunnels
To counter the tunnel threat, the IDF is doubling the number of soldiers in
“Yahalom,” the elite commando unit of the Combat Engineering Corps
IsraelDefense | 27/11/2016
Since before Operation Protective Edge, Hamas, the terror organization
controlling the Gaza Strip, has been building numerous cross-border terror
tunnels. They have changed the face of the battlefield by moving it
underground. Their aim: to infiltrate Israeli communities and attack
They have succeeded in the past. During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas
fighters snuck through a terror tunnel and emerged near Nahal Oz, killed
five soldiers at an IDF outpost, and attempted to kidnap one of their
bodies. These tunnels have even reached the civilian communities of Kibbutz
Nir Am and Kibbutz Sufa, placing thousands of innocent lives in danger.
To counter this threat, the IDF is doubling the number of soldiers in
“Yahalom,” the elite commando unit of the Combat Engineering Corps. While
combat soldiers in most units are trained in basic tunnel warfare, Yahalom
specializes in discovering, clearing, and destroying terror tunnels.
As the threat of terror tunnels continues to grow, the role that Yahalom
plays becomes even more vital. Although the entire unit deals with the
tunnel threat, the unit is split into specialized companies. The “Yael”
Company is the engineering reconnaissance force. “Sayfan” is trained to
handle the threat of non-conventional weapons (WMD’s). There are two
additional explosive ordinance disposal units, and “Samur,” which
specializes in tunnel warfare.
“The main challenge of underground warfare is that the enemy has no
above-ground signature, says Col. Yaron, the commander of the Yahalom Unit.
“The fact that the enemy is hidden and collecting intelligence is
complicated and difficult.” Hamas’ use of the tactic is no different. “Hamas
views warfare underground just as it would above ground, utilizing defense,
offense, and retreat. They even destroy the foundations of their terror
tunnels to harm the IDF soldiers inside, similar to the tactic used in
Lt. Hezi has first-hand experience fighting inside of Hamas’s terror tunnels
from Operation Protective Edge. “No two tunnels are the same. The first
person to enter the tunnel has to improvise,” he explains. “This is exactly
what we train for – to be prepared for any situation, whether it be a
terrorist or explosive. When you see the inside of these terror tunnels –
that’s when you suddenly understand how big of a threat we face.”
This article was originally published on the IDF Blog.