IDF Commando Follies


happy as a pig in shit

From the video, seconds before the disturbing scene Poop! There it is!: A Silly Potty Training Book


“I had a female-commander who didn’t stop cursing, dirty words that I had never heard before,” complained a few days ago Yosef Duvdevany while describing his IDF service as a Haredi soldier. Despite his heartbreaking descriptions, anybody aware with the IDF reality couldn’t help but giggle in embarrassment at his naivety. In the last minutes of May 16, 2013, so that the item would be missed by many, Haaretz published in its Hebrew online edition that the commando’s filmed shitting on their friend’s head were dismissed from their duties. In other words, they were thrown down the sewage of oblivion into the deepest ocean. They’ll spend the rest of their service filing papers in a dusty office.
Due to the very unusual graphics of the page, I reproduce the headline here. Please note the items that I won’t comment upon.


Haaretz Headline “Commanders of the soldiers that tortured their friend dismissed”
Barak hits the IDF
Ehud Barak was IDF Chief of Staff between 1991 and 1995. Having served as soldier, officer and commander of Sayeret Matkal, the army’s top commando unit, he was the first Chief of Staff with enough power to tackle the Princes. While entering office he promised to transform the IDF into a “small and smart” army. When he left, the IDF was larger, fatter, and definitely not smarter. Yet, he made order in the commando units scene, his monster-baby. Until he arrived, high quality infantry brigades were controlled directly from the large Commands (North, Central and South) instead of being part of a regular division. Commando units could be found randomly placed in the army’s hierarchy, with Sayeret Matkal being controlled directly by the General Command Headquarters (the Matkal).
Media reports on the structure of IDF commando and reconnaissance units (adding to the confusion, both enter under the Hebrew term “sayeret,” which can be loosely translated as “wanderer”) are fuzzy due to the intentional operative matrix* adopted by these. These units overlap in their capabilities, adding flexibility to the General Command in their use. Barak kept this functionality but changed the chain of command. For example, Infantry Brigade #1, Golani, was downgraded from the North Command to Division 36 on the Golan Heights. Beyond adding order, it added confusion to media reports.
A third issue is related to the naming of these units, which appear and disappear randomly. Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101 was disbanded in the 1950s; probably the Command got tired of what was defined once as “his chicken-robbing in Gaza.” A generation later it was recreated as a battalion in the Paratroopers Brigade. One must be careful while referring to these units in order not to mix up the culprits. Something similar happens with “Egoz” the star of this report.
Is Egoz Golani’s Commando?

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Golani is considered an elite infantry brigade. It is characterized for the bulk of its soldiers being Sephardic (Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi** is a good example, he advanced in the unit from soldier to its commander), and for being unruly. Recently several of its soldiers deserted the Mt. Hermon Stronghold. The soldiers saved in The Cross of Bethlehem from an RPG7, were from Golani. They didn’t even say “thank you.”
“Sayeret Egoz” was the commando unit of IDF’s North Command until it was disbanded after the 1973 War. In 1995, it was recreated as the “Egoz Unit” within the abovementioned Golani Brigade. At this point, one may be tempted to say “Ah, it is another name for Sayeret Golani,” and dismiss the issue; yet, this is not true. Following Barak’s work, a “gadsar” (acronym for “gdud siur,” “reconnaissance battalion”) was created in most brigades. It includes a “sayeret” or “palsar,” which is the proper commando unit, an anti-tank company, a communications company and an engineering company, Until Barak’s reorganization, these were “Brigade Companies” under the direct command of a Brigade’s commander. “Sayeret Golani,” the Golani Commando, is part of this conglomerate of special units. “Egoz Unit” is a different monster.
In this New World Order, Egoz needed to be placed within an infantry brigade, and thus it was incorporated as a unit within Golani. Yet, it is practically independent, acting also beyond the borders of the North Command. Egoz is defined as the IDF “complex ground operations” commando unit. It is considered an elite unit. This is important, Israel cannot blame the event on misfits.

Just Following Orders
Humiliation Ceremony
Several times in the past, I commented upon Israeli humiliation techniques (Humiliating Abbas). It is part of local culture, with Israelis being unable to realize that it antagonizes the victim. This is the epitome of Judaism and the antithesis of Christianity. Most IDF elite units have unofficial humiliation ceremonies performed on their rookies. This year, the one performed by Egoz went wrong because one of its soldiers refused to surrender to the horror and was forced to be shat upon his head by his friend.
Even this would have gone unnoticed; I have heard about no less shocking events. However, the event was videotaped and circulated to the extent that Haaretz published the picture opening this page. The issue became public. North Command Commander, Major General Yair Golan was requested to investigate and issue a report to Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, IDF’s Chief of Staff. The report was given in the afternoon of May 16, and during the night the issue was half-hidden in Haaretz Hebrew site.
The report dismissed the involved aggressors and their commanders from the unit. Its commander, whose name is State-secret, got a note in his personal record. Following the initial publication, Golani’s Commander, Colonel Yaniv Asor, assured that justice will be done. He got involved, because the soldiers were using T-Shirts identifying them as Golani soldiers. Only later, it was found that they belonged to the elite unit Egoz. This is yet another camouflage technique of such units; in this case the use of the T-shirts was justifiable, but misleading. The soldiers surrounding the horror were telling jokes and encouraging the aggressor to continue. The investigation defined the event as “real torture.”
A few days ago, a Haredi former soldiers complained about the language used by his female commander; today we are reminded of the full horrors of Israeli crappy culture.
* Finding errors in reports and reviews of IDF special units is common. Contradictions between different descriptions seem to be the norm and eventually discredit most sources. Oddly enough, many times the reports are correct; their only fault being that they are incomplete. With few exceptions (Kingfisher being the most obvious one), these units rate as battalions. However, beyond the formal definition and their subdivision into platoons, there is no operational similarity between them and regular battalions. Each commando platoon has a specific training, which transforms it into a military expert in that topic.
Then, specialties are constructed in a matrix fashion across the army. Every commando unit has a counterterrorism specialized platoon. This makes it easier for the IDF to have at any moment an available specialist on the topic. Moreover, it allows a combination of capabilities that increases maneuverability. In special conditions, such a grid-organization enables it to answer complex situations. Imagine a need to perform a counterterrorism operation atop Mount Hermon, at the ski resort. Sending a commando unit accustomed to work in the desert will cause difficulties. The soldiers would not have proper equipment; they would not know how to behave in the snow. In such a case, a mixed team from Sayeret Matkal Alpinist and its Counterterrorism platoons would be formed and delivered.
** In one of my stays in the US, I was asked regarding the surname “Ashkenazi.” The person that asked was very surprised when I commented THAT it was a popular name among Moroccan Jews. “That can’t be true!” was the answer I got. As usual, things in the Jewish community are complex and the popularized conceptions are – to say the least – oversimplified. “Ashkenaz” is a name given by Pharisaic-Jews to the area now known as Germany. An “i” added at the end of a noun in Hebrew denotes possession. “Ashkenazi” means “from Germany.” So how come a Moroccan Jew is called Ashkenazi? Actually, it will be very hard to find a German Jew called Ashkenazi. The best way of illustrating this is taking the issue into neutral grounds. Imagine a Canadian family moving to Honduras and settling down there. It won’t take much until some neighbours would refer to them just as the “Canadians.” In some cases this name would stick. In the case of Moroccan Jews the name is related to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Some of these moved northwards, and settled down all over northern Europe, including “Ashkenaz.” Some of them failed settling down and moved back southwards – toward the beautiful Mediterranean sun. Spain was then closed for them, so they moved to the nearest country, where modern Morroco is. They were “Germans” among “Moroccans,” i.e. Ashkenazis. The same is truth in all settlements of Oriental Jews. Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi’s father was a Bulgarian Jew (most consider this community closer to Oriental than to Western Jewish practices) and his mother was a Syrian Jew. With such a background, the general is considered an Oriental Jew in Israel.


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.