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Israeli Special Forces and Their Weapons

By: Warren Gray

Copyright © 2020

“Who dares, wins.”

— Motto of the Sayeret Matkal

(also, the British SAS.)

The State of Israel is a tiny (about the size of New Jersey), predominantly (74-percent)-Jewish nation, established in 1948, and surrounded by four Islamic countries, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, which have all been very hostile to it in the past, and some continue to be quite hostile, even today, especially Syria. In addition, the nearby, Islamic nations of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all within easy flying distance by military aircraft, and would all like to see Israel cease to exist to some degree or other, but particularly the hardcore, theocratic, fundamentalist regime of Iran.

There have been many assertions by notable, world leaders that Islam is a “religion of peace,” but this is definitely not supported by the actions of Islamic nations worldwide, or by their holy book, the Quran (formerly the Koran.) For just one example, Quran Verse 8:12 reads: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved (in Islam.) So, strike them over the necks (meaning beheading), and smite over all their fingers and toes. Strike them on the foreheads to tear them apart and over the necks to cut them off, and cut off their limbs, hands and feet.”

In addition Verse 47:4 reads as follows: “So, when you meet those who disbelieve (in Islam), strike (their) necks until...you have inflicted slaughter upon them...Allah...could have taken vengeance upon them...Those who are killed in the cause of Allah, never will he waste their deeds.” These gruesome passages, and many others, certainly do not exemplify a “religion of peace” by any definition. They even have a special word for this type of behavior: Jihad means “holy war.”

Here is the stark, incontrovertible fact: Most (but not all) of the recent (past 25 years), major wars have been fought in predominantly-Islamic countries or regions, such as Afghanistan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, as well as numerous confrontations with Iran in the Persian Gulf, and a very recent (September 27, 2020) battle in Azerbaijan’s hotly-disputed, Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkish presidential aid Ibrahim Kalin publicly admitted in August 2019 that, “60 percent of conflicts globally (a huge understatement; actually, 100 percent of the major, civil wars since 2012) are happening in Muslim countries. This must be a hard lesson for all of us.”

So, let’s be really, really clear here. This author lived and worked in Islamic countries surrounding Israel for two and a half years in a military capacity, and the irrational, incomprehensible madness and vitriolic hatred exhibited in American politics today absolutely pales in comparison with the vicious, extremely-violent, Islamic hatred for the State of Israel. For those of us who do not live there and experience it firsthand every day, it seems beyond imagination, but it’s very real. This is precisely why the very-recent (signed on September 15, 2020), Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially known as the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement, is such an unexpected and miraculous development in today’s turbulent world.

As a direct result, Israel has been in a constant state of war (1947-49, 1956, 1964-1967, 1967-70, 1973, 1982, 1990-91, 2006, 2014, etc.), counterinsurgency, or especially counterterrorism (“I will cast terror,” says the Quran) since its very inception, and will continue to be so, probably forever, because basic, human nature never changes.

And because, as Thomas Jefferson once stated, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” the State of Israel, an outnumbered, regional underdog, maintains a very-powerful, military component, the Israeli Defense Force, or IDF, and in particular some of the finest counterterrorist (CT) forces in the entire world. This article will specifically address the four Tier-One units in the nation, and their top intelligence agency:

Sayeret Matkal (meaning “Special-Reconnaissance Unit of the General Staff”), or Unit 269, or simply “The Unit,” was founded in 1957 as a Top-Secret, special-reconnaissance unit, also tasked with direct action, and later with hostage-rescue and counterterrorism. It was directly patterned after the highly-successful, British Special Air Service (SAS), even sharing their official motto, “Who Dares, Wins.” In 1967, with the dramatic rise in Arab terrorism, Sayeret Matkal began developing the very first hostage-rescue and CT techniques in the world, and they were vaguely known at the time only as “elite paratroopers.”

They attained international prominence and respect after the astounding, counterterrorist raid of Operation Entebbe on July 4, 1976. Eight days prior to that, four Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France A300 jet airliner bound from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Paris, France, shortly after a stopover in Athens, Greece, and diverted the aircraft and its 248 passengers to Entebbe, Uganda. 148 non-Israeli hostages were released on June 30, leaving 106 hostages at Entebbe, including 84 Israelis, 10 French passengers, and all 12 members of the Air France crew. Israeli Sayeret Matkal commandos secretly planned a daring, long-range (2,500 miles), rescue operation, with covert, intelligence assistance from the German government.

The dazzling, Israeli raid that night, Operation Entebbe (or Operation Thunderbolt), was stunningly successful, with Sayeret Matkal commandos rescuing 102 of the 106 hostages in less than 53 minutes. Five Israeli soldiers were wounded, and one was killed, but all four terrorists and 45 Ugandan soldiers (aiding the terrorists) were killed in action, and at least 11 Ugandan jet fighter aircraft were destroyed on the ground to prevent them from pursuing the Israelis on their way home. One French-Israeli hostage was accidentally killed when he stood up during the bold, rescue operation.

The incredible success of the Sayeret Matkal, and just one year later, Germany’s GSG 9 counterterrorist force, led to the founding of the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (“Delta Force”) CT unit in late 1977. In this respect, Sayeret Matkal is Israel’s direct counterpart to the American Delta Force, but the Israelis were a full decade ahead of us in counterterrorist expertise by then. They have consistently been rated as “the most-effective, CT force in the world...it has taken on mythical status with swift, surgical victories in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Uganda.”

Sayeret Matkal was deeply involved in the 1982 Lebanon War, the assassination of noted, Palestinian, terrorist leader Kalil al-Wazir (“Abu Jihad”) in Tunis, Tunisia, in 1988, they disrupted weapons smuggling, jointly with the Shaldag unit (see below), during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, collected soil samples deep inside Syria prior to Operation Orchard, the daring, Israeli bombing of a North Korean-made, nuclear reactor in Syria, and infiltrated deep inside Syria once again in 2017 to place a listening device inside an ISIS terrorist operations center. Significant, Israeli leaders, such as Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, were Sayeret Matkal members.

The unit consists of about 200 full-time commandos, with hundreds more in reserve status. Of several thousand applicants each year, only 12 are selected, sent to paratrooper training, and then weapons training, endless hikes in the Negev Desert, advanced, CT techniques in squads of 10 to 12 men, hand-to-hand combat, urban warfare, survival training, and night fighting. After training exhaustively for nearly two years, they will go on active duty with the Sayeret Matkal for the next five years, and then continue on in the reserves, on duty for 100 days per year, and in times of crisis.

Shayetet 13 (literally, “Flotilla 13”), and known as “The Bats,” due to their bat-winged, qualification badge, is a special-reconnaissance unit of the Israeli Navy, created in 1949, and specializing in amphibious incursions, intelligence collection, CT operations, hostage rescue, sabotage, and ship-boarding. They are the direct, Israeli counterparts to U.S. Navy SEALs, specifically the SEAL Team Six CT unit, and the British Special Boat Service, assigned to Atlit Naval Base with an estimated 300 men. Shayetet 13 has frequently trained with U.S. Navy SEALs, the French Marine Commandos, and other friendly, naval special operations forces.

The unit is one of the most-secretive in the IDF, seeing intense action in every major and minor conflict involving Israeli forces, including a 1973 raid in Beirut, Lebanon, to kill several members of the Black September terrorist group, which carried out the heinous, 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre against Israeli athletes.

In fact, working together with Sayeret Matkal and the Mossad, they were part of Operation Wrath of God, which was every bit as ruthless and violent as it sounds. Virtually all of those involved in the Munich Massacre have since been hunted down and killed, except for one survivor, who is hiding in Africa, intentionally spared by the Israelis so he can tell his story. There was never any film footage of these assassinations, and the Israelis never took credit for any of them. They didn’t need to. The deeds themselves struck abject terror into the hearts of terrorist leaders worldwide.

We need to remember that our own government also fully sanctions the killing of terrorists. This is virtually the only reason for the existence of Delta Force and SEAL Team Six. There is a very big difference by definition between “antiterrorism,” which includes all possible measures to deter terrorist actions and track down terrorists, such as police and intelligence measures, and “counterterrorism,” which involves actively “countering” known terrorists, a polite euphemism for killing them, face-to-face.

Most of the U.S. government’s efforts are involved in “antiterrorism,” but only Delta Force, SEAL Team Six, and to a lesser extent, a more-classified group with its own “shooter” detachment (See my June 20, 2020, article in Gunpower Magazine, “The Guns of Delta Force,” for a more-detailed description of the SAA), are involved in genuine  “counterterrorism.” (Although, the CIA also kills terrorists, using remote-control drones.)

Shayetet 13 then fought in the 1982 Lebanon War, securing beachheads and conducting CT raids into Beirut again. In 1988, they helped the Sayeret Matkal to kill terrorist leader Abu Jihad at his home in Tunisia. In 2008, Shayetet 13 snipers on a yacht were responsible for the assassination of Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman.

They have struck terrorist targets on the Gaza Strip coastline of Egypt, and raided foreign ships illegally transporting tons of munitions from Iran to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. In 2011, they seized the Liberian-flagged, German-owned ship Victoria on the high seas, 200 miles from the Israeli coast. It was loaded in Latakia, Syria, with 50 tons of Russian-manufactured weapons for Hamas terrorists in Lebanon.

Shaldag(meaning “Kingfisher”), or Unit 5101, is the leading, commando unit of the Israeli Air Force, founded in 1974 by a Sayeret Matkal veteran as a result of combat lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Their mission is to deploy undetected into hostile territory, to conduct special reconnaissance, establish assault zones or airfields, conduct air traffic control, commando actions, and act as forward air controllers on the ground during Israeli airstrikes. Shaldagis Israel’s direct counterpart to the U.S. Air Force’s elite, 24th Special Tactics Squadron, a Tier-One unit, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Shaldag operates from Palmachim Air Base.

They undergo the longest training phase of any IDF Special Forces unit, 22 months, because Shaldag operators must be fully-qualified, air traffic controllers first, and then elite commandos, with “brains as well as brawn.” In fact, their training and qualification process is soarduous and demanding that they only have about 48 operators on active duty at any given time.

Recently, Shaldag was very active in the 2006 Lebanon War, taking part in a daring, midnight raid at Baalbek, Lebanon, in which 19 Hezbollah terrorist fighters were killed, with no Israeli casualties. The next year, in 2007, Shaldag was instrumental in Operation Orchard, laser-designating their target from the ground during the Israeli, jet bombing of a North-Korean-built, nuclear reactor deep inside of Syria. And Shaldag was active again during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, discovering Hamas tunnels and providing sniper support for Israeli infantry forces in the northern Gaza Strip.

Unit 669, officially “Airborne Combat Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669,” but popularly known as the “Flying Cats,” because of their winged, black-cat insignia, and also founded in 1974, is the IDF’s principal, combat-search-and-rescue (CSAR) unit, subordinate to the Special Air Forces Command and 7th Aerial Special Forces Wing, and currently operating from Palmachim Air Base. It’s an elite, commando-trained, Special Forces unit, flying American-made, desert-camouflaged, CH-53 2000 Yas’ur (“Petrel,” or Sea Stallion in the U.S.) and UH-60A Yanshuf-3 (“Owl-3,” or Black Hawk in the U.S.) helicopters to rescue downed, Israeli pilots deep behind enemy lines, if necessary, and carry out the airborne, medical evacuation of critical casualties, but they also execute covert, special operations missions, as required.

This type of combined, special operations/CSAR capability no longer exists within the U.S. Air Force, but it was previously put to good use on May 2, 1999, during the Operation Allied Force, NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, when an F-16CG Fighting Falcon from Aviano Air Base, Italy, was shot down at night over Šabac, Serbia.

Flying to the rescue in total darkness were two large, MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopters from the 20th Special Operations Squadron (20th SOS, “Green Hornets”), at that time a secretive, Tier-One unit (but no longer), and one MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 55th Special Operations Squadron (“Night Hawks,” now an ordinary, HH-60G rescue squadron) at Tuzla Air Base, Bosnia, loaded with Air Force combat controllers, pararescuemen, and an Army Special Forces A-team.

Acting together, they successfully rescued Lieutenant Colonel David L. Goldfein, commander of the 555th (“Triple Nickel”) Fighter Squadron, who later went on to become the latest (until October 1, 2020), Air Force Chief of Staff, under intense, enemy gunfire at about five o’clock in the morning. But the Air Force no longer combines special operations and rescue missions, and no longer has a Tier-One, special operations aircraft squadron.

The 20th SOS is currently a “vanilla,” special operations squadron, based in New Mexico, and flying the CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Unit 669’s mission can best be compared to the bygone era from 1981 to 2007, when the 20th SOS was a classified, Tier-One unit, tasked with covert, special operations as well as rescue missions under very difficult conditions.

Unit 669 members are not merely helicopter aviators, but full-fledged paratroopers, with special operations, combat medical training, scuba training, survival training in different environments, CT training, advanced, solo navigation training, and they all take a commander’s course, even the lowest enlisted ranks, to be able to think on their feet and take charge in critical situations.

When Major Dror, their deputy commander, was interviewed in 2017, he stated that, “First and foremost, (we) look for warriors, with all that implies; it requires mental and physical strength. We also require self-confidence and a feeling that they can deal with any situation...they will have to solve the problem, no matter how complex it is...In a real rescue mission, every second counts, and could lead to a helicopter taking fire...We always arrive first to the scene, so we have to stay the most-powerful force on the field.”

Unit 669 is involved in approximately 80 operations per year, being scrambled at least once or twice per week. Their “Evacuation” branch has a company of airborne operators, doctors, pararescue medics, and nurses, all of who are also jump-qualified and commando-trained. They have the ability to jump from C-130HI Karnaf aircraft in order to locate and stabilize a downed, injured, Israeli pilot before rescue helicopters can arrive.

The Mossad, officially “The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations,” is the nation’s premier, intelligence agency, a direct counterpart to the American CIA. It was founded in 1949, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is responsible for intelligence collection, covert operations, and counterterrorism. The Mossad answers directly and only to the prime minister of Israel, and is not governed by any constitutional laws. With an estimated 7,000 employees, it is the second-largest intelligence agency in the world, after the American CIA. The current director, since 2016, is Yosef “Yossi” Cohen, a former paratrooper, and Mossad veteran for the past 38 years.

The Mossad’s top two CT units are Metsada, responsible for attacking the enemy with “small units of combatants,” whose missions include “assassinations and sabotage,” and Kidon, which has been aptly described as “an elite group of expert assassins,” and it primarily recruits “former soldiers from the elite, IDF Special Forces units.” The State of Israel has an official policy of assassinating known terrorists and other severe threats to the country’s existence, because terrorists seem to understand only brute force, and has carried out at least 2,700 such missions, according to reliable sources.

Rafael “Rafi” Eitan, the legendary, former operations chief of the Mossad, and a former soldier, told the late, British, investigative journalist Gordon Thomas in Tel Aviv in December 2002, that, “I always tried to kill (terrorists) when I could see the whites of a person’s eyes, so I could smell the fear, smell it on his breath. Sometimes, I used my hands, a knife, or a silenced gun. I never felt a moment’s regret over a (terrorist’s) killing.”

Meir Amit, a former Mossad director, told Gordon Thomas that, “Our actions are all endorsed by the State of Israel. When Mossad kills, it is not breaking the law. It is fulfilling a sentence sanctioned by the prime minister.” Thomas wrote that, “They had long and short-blade knives, piano wire to strangle, explosives no bigger than a throat lozenge, capable of blowing off a person’s head. An arsenal of guns: short-barrel pistols, sniper rifles with a mile killing range.” A Mossad source told him, “We try to never use the same method twice. Our technicians spend all their time devising new ways to kill.”

Thomas noted that, “The (typical) Kidon team had passed the two years’ course...There, they had learned to kill...The usual composition of a hit team is four. One is the ‘target locator’...Another is the ‘transporter’...The remaining two men (or women) perform the execution...That is their style: Go it alone. They believe they know more than anyone else in fighting terrorism. And they may be right...(They know) how to make an assassination look like an accident...It makes them probably the most-sophisticated, lawfully-approved killers in the world...The first the world will know, if Mossad is successful, will be after it has happened.”

Among those tracked down by the Mossad was former, SS Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Col.) Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the extermination of Jews in Nazi concentration camps under the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” who was abducted in Argentina in 1960, taken to Israel, tried for war crimes, and executed there by hanging in 1962. By 2007, the Mossad had also assassinated at least four leading, Iranian scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

In early 2008, Hezbollah terrorist-organization founder and mastermind Imad Fayez Mugniyah, the man who taught Osama bin Laden how to use explosives, was himself killed in downtown Damascus, Syria, blown to pieces by a car bomb hidden inside the headrest of his silver, Mitsubishi Pajero SUV. Two and a half years later, the decomposed body of Yuri Ivanov, deputy chief of the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence Service) washed unceremoniously up on a Turkish beach in August 2010, after he had disappeared from the Russian, military base near Latakia, Syria, earlier. These are just a few grim examples out of thousands.

Here are the uniforms, weapons, and vehicles of these elite, IDF units:

Uniforms: IDF Special Forces (SF) field uniforms have been mostly plain, olive green in the past, with a recent transition to slightly-darker, Ranger Green, although new, grayish-tan, assault uniforms have also been photographed recently. A 2018-19 pilot program to introduce digital-pattern, camouflaged uniforms was not well-received, so the SF-unique, Ranger Green remains the standard uniform. Unit 669’s aviators wear standard, sage-green, Nomex flight suits. Every IDF paratrooper wears a red, winged-serpent, shoulder tag (or patch), but not Sayeret Matkal.

The mere lack of a unit patch can become a security problem in itself. This author once worked for a jointly-manned, special operations unit that had, and still has, no official, unit patch (an emblem, yes, even a brass, unit coin, but a patch, no) of its own, whereas virtually everyonein the U.S. Army (about 70 percent of our personnel at the time) wears a unit patch on their left shoulder, so we were readily identified by omission as, “Oh, one of those guys!” So, this unit now wears the shoulder patch of a different, but semi-related command, just to avoid this unique, operational security issue. Go figure! Problem solved, however.

New-style, reddish-brown (but known as “red”), leather paratrooper boots, made in India, with Vibram soles, are standard for all Israeli Special Forces units, but they routinely wear lightweight, commercial, hiking boots on operations instead, possibly from Asolo, Lowa, Salomon, Scarpa, or other manufacturers.

Sayeret Matkal wears the maroon, Israeli Army paratrooper’s beret with subdued, infantry crest (even though they are actually part of the Military Intelligence Directorate, or Aman), to look like ordinary paratroopers while in garrison, but usually not on actual operations. Shaldagand Unit 669 members are also qualified paratroopers, but they wear the dark-gray, Israeli Air Force beret instead. Shayetet 13 members wear the standard, dark-blue beret of the Israeli Navy.

Israeli jump wings are made of silver metal, with a colored, plastic (or sometimes, felt) backing. Green denotes a commando, red for a combat jump, and blue for basic, parachute status. The colors may overlap, so a Special Forces commando with a combat jump to his credit may wear both green and red backing. Most Special Forces soldiers now wear the new, Advanced Tactical HALO (freefall) wings, depicting a parabolic, HALO parachute canopy over a short sword.

Assault rifles: Primary weapons are the Colt M4A1 SOPMOD (Special-Operations-Peculiar, MODification kit) in 5.56mm, some with M203, 40mm grenade launchers, the Colt M4 Commando (11.5-inch barrel) in 5.56mm, with M4A1lower receivers, including some with M203, 40mm grenade launchers, and the IWI Micro Tavor X95-330 (older, 13-inch barrel) or X95-380 (newer, 15-inch barrel) in 5.56mm, including some of each with M203 grenade launchers. Suppressors are readily-available, and frequently used, for all of these carbines. All older weapons (Galils, CAR-15s, etc.) have been retired from active service, or reallocated to police and security groups.

Submachine guns: The main submachine guns are the Tavor X95 and X95-S (suppressed) SMGs (11-inch barrel) in 9mm, and the B&T (Swiss) APC9, also in 9mm. The world-famous, compact, Israeli-made Uzi, in 9mm, firing from an open bolt, is outdated and no longer in active service.

Sniper Rifles: A variety of sniper weapons are employed, ranging from very small-caliber to very large. The suppressed Ruger 10/22 in .22 LR is still popular for very quiet operations. In 7.62mm NATO, they utilize the Remington M24A2 (often suppressed), Mauser 86SR (particularly by Shaldag), and the Knight’s Armament Corporation SR-25 Mk. 11 (usually suppressed.) In .338 Lapua Magnum, there are the Remington MSR/Mk. 21, Barrett MRAD/Mk. 22 (usually suppressed), and H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 HTR Barak (“Lightning,” usually suppressed.)

One very interesting, new, sniper-rifle design is the ultra-accurate, DAN .338 from Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), favored not only by Israeli Special Forces, but by the elite, British Special Air Service (SAS) commandos, as well. The DAN (named for an ancient city in northern Israel) .338 (Lapua Magnum) is lighter, more accurate, less cumbersome, and with a larger magazine capacity (10 rounds) than the standard, British Accuracy International L115A3 sniper rifle, and comes with an ergonomic, folding stock for compactness during travel.

It’s fitted with an innovative, 10-power, Meprolight MESLAS high-precision, daylight scope, which incorporates a single-pulse, laser rangefinder, compact fire-control system, and exacting measurements of air temperature, humidity, weapon elevation angle, target distance, and other sensors for ballistic calculations. The MESLAS is deadly accurate out as far as 2,000 meters, beyond the effective range of the rifle itself, and gives the DAN .338 a higher “one-shot, one-kill” ratio than any other sniper weapon. The British SAS used it with devasting effect against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Finally, the mighty Barrett M82A1sniper rifle in .50 Browning is used by the Israeli Special Forces, primarily as an anti-matériel weapon.

Machine Guns: The IWI Negev NG-7 SF infantry machine gun (with short, 16.5-inch barrel) in 7.62mm is the primary, handheld weapon. Heavier, vehicle-mounted machine guns include the FN MAG (M240B/D/H) in 7.62mm, and the Browning M2-HQCB (M2A1) in .50 caliber.

Pistols: IDF Special Forces prefer the Glock-17, 18, and especially the compact 19, as well as the SIG P226 and P228 series. The chief weapons of the Mossad are the Glock 17, 18, and mostly 19s, some Glock-30s (just like America’s Delta Force), usually all suppressed, and the Walther P22 in .22 LR (now a CIA favorite, as well), almost always suppressed, for very quiet missions. The Mossad normally uses foreign-made weapons, for plausible-deniability purposes, in case their operatives are killed, captured, or any weapons are left behind, with various handguns in the past from the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, and other external sources, and currently from Austria and Germany.

Standard, Israeli military and civilian, shooting practice is to wear a pistol with a full magazine and empty chamber, for safety, and to draw swiftly with the strong hand, racking back the slide with the other hand, as the pistol comes up to eye level for firing. If done correctly, this is just as fast as any other technique.

Fobus holsters, by the way, are designed and produced in Kfar Hess, Israel (about 12 miles northeast of Tel Aviv), since 1978, made specifically for military and security personnel, such as Mossad operatives. They’re extremely thin, lightweight, inexpensive, and created for a secure hold and a very fast draw, without the grippy, suede interior and tannic acid of leather, which can damage the finish of a firearm over time.  This author carries all of his self-defense handguns in Fobus holsters.

Combat knives: The Israeli-manufactured, DuStar Arad (seven-inch blade) and DuStar Dimona (6.5-inch blade) are by far the favored, fighting knives. The ISAK (“Israeli Army Knife,” with 6.7-inch blade) is a popular, survival knife. DuStar also makes the smaller, lighter, Magan (4.75-inch blade), the Arava (4.5-inch blade), and Lahav (3.5-inch blade), which are more useful as general-purpose knives.

The Mossad, in particular, employs various types of foreign-made, double-edged daggers, for killing swiftly and efficiently. The famous, British, Fairbairn-Sykes commando dagger, and its modern, high-quality, Dutch (Hill Knives), German (Böker, and Eickhorn), Indian (Deepeeka), and Italian (Extrema Ratio, and Fox Knives) copies were designed during World War Two, not as a multipurpose knife, but specifically as a killing implement for British Commandos, and they are ideal for this intended purpose, and are still issued to the Royal Marine Commandos today.

Similar, good-quality, fighting daggers, with blades ranging in length from four inches to 11 inches, are manufactured in Wazirabad (known famously as the “City of Cutlery,” in bright lights, and in English, at their city gateway), in northern Pakistan (ironically, an Islamic nation.) Any of these could be likely, Mossad weapons, due to the plausible-deniability factor of foreign-made weapons, and the poetic-justice aspect of employing an Islamic blade to dispatch Islamic terrorists. Double-edged, boot knives are shorter, smaller, and more concealable, yet still quite sharp and lethal as Mossad-style weapons. Some of these excellent, Pakistani knifes are sold in the United States for up to five times their original, retail price on the international market.

Slim-bladed, doubled-edged daggers are hardly a new design, however.  A very sleek, modern-looking, British Alexander dagger, of Sheffield, England, with a full tang, brass hilt, and smooth, wooden grips sold at auction in October 2018 for $23,500. It was engraved, and well-documented to have been carried during the U.S. Civil War by a brash, young, cavalry officer named George Armstrong Custer. But, it stills seems to have been a uniquely-British design, like the later, Fairbairn-Sykes dagger.

Grenades: The M26A2fragmentation grenade, and M48 “flash-bang,” stun grenade are the standard weapons of this type.

Vehicles: Israeli Special Forces require speed, high-mobility, and all-terrain capability, as well as firepower, when necessary. Their larger vehicles are the M998/M1025/M1113/M1114 HMMWV (“Hum-vee,” known in Israel as the “Hamer”) series, usually painted desert tan, for camouflage. Some of these are stripped down, with no doors or roof, for reconnaissance purposes, with FN MAG or M2HB machine guns mounted.

Smaller, lighter, and faster vehicles include the AIL M-240/242 Storm I, II, and III (Jeep Wrangler copy), the MDT David (a hybrid between the Land Rover Defender 110 and the Toyota Land Cruiser 79), and the AIL Desert Raider 6x6 dune buggy.

In conclusion, the Israeli Special Forces remain surrounded by potential enemies and fanatical terrorists at all times, and must be especially vigilant, well-trained, thoroughly-prepared, and exceptionally well-armed, to meet the security needs of their small nation in an uncertain world. Their methods may seem audacious, even harsh, to others at times, but they fully realize the vicious and enduring nature of the threats that they face, and must plan and execute their operations with meticulous attention to detail, and the stark realization that the very survival of the State of Israel rests in their calm, capable hands. It’s a truly daunting responsibility.

Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism. He served in Europe and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, and four college degrees, including a Master of Aeronautical Science degree, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author and historian. You may visit his web site at: warrengray54.webs.com.

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