August 17, 2006:
Commandos prefer to operate in the shadows, but the recent Israeli operations in Lebanon put the spotlight on their commandos at work. News reports from Lebanon indicated that there were at least three, and possibly more, raids deep into the country. Some two dozen Hizbollah members were brought back as prisoners, and many more were left dead. The elite navy, army and air force commandos apparently carried out these operations.
But many more raids and recon operations were apparently undertaken closer to the Israeli border, by the many other Israeli commando type troops. Once more details of some of these operations got into the Arab and Israeli media, the military usually discloses a few more details, if only to avoid any misunderstandings.
Israel has a large force of special operations type troops, for a country its size (six million). There are two small battalions of Arabic speaking troops used for undercover operations and raids into the Palestinian territories. Sayeret Shimshon (Unit 367) is assigned to the Gaza Strip, while Sayeret Duvdevan (Unit 217) takes care of the West Bank. There are four companies of Ranger type troops (Palsar) that normally are assigned to one of the four elite infantry brigades of the army, and two more to support armored brigades. There are also three LRRP companies (Special Command Teams), with one assigned to each of the army's corps headquarters. Lotar Eilat and Unit Yamam are two hostage rescue units (each under 100 troops.) These units are also used as commandos (as when there is a lot of violence with the Palestinians.) There are also several hundred highly trained LRRP troops assigned directly to intelligence units. The navy has a SEAL unit (Shayetet 13) of about 400 men. This unit is more selective than the other commando units, with about 80 percent of it's candidates failing the training course, compared to about 50 percent with other units. The navy also has a company size unit of divers (similar to U.S. UDT). The police force also has over a thousand specially trained men who are a cut above your usual SWAT teams.