Sayeret Matkal (hebrajski: סיירת מטכ"ל - dosłownie: Jednostka Rozpoznawcza Sztabu Generalnego) - to izraelski wojskowy oddział specjalny Sił Obronnych Izraela (IDF), jedna z najbardziej znanych na świecie. Utworzona w 1957 roku jako Jednostka 269 i wzorowana na brytyjskim SAS, ma za zadanie prowadzenie działań antyterrorystycznych, prowadzenie rozpoznania na tyłach wroga oraz zbieranie danych wywiadowczych. Liczy około 300 żołnierzy.
Najsłynniejszą akcją jednostki była Operacja Entebbe - odbicie zakładników przetrzymywanych na lotnisku Entebbe w Ugandzie.
Sayeret Matkal (Hebrew: סיירת מטכ"ל, translation: General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) is an elite special forces unit of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Its main roles are counter-terrorism, deep reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, but the unit is first and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, used to obtain strategically important intelligence far behind enemy lines. Sayeret Matkal is also in charge of hostage rescue missions outside of Israel's borders. The unit is modeled on the British SAS, and organizationally reports to Aman. Its IDF nickname is simply "The Unit". The unit's motto is "Who Dares Wins" (same as the SAS motto).
The unit is best known for Operation Thunderbolt, more commonly but mistakenly known as Operation Entebbe, in which it rescued more than 100 Air France airline passengers hijacked and flown to Uganda by PLO terrorists, losing only the unit commander, Yonatan Netanyahu, to enemy gunfire.
Sayeret Matkal was formed in 1958 by an officer by the name of Avraham Arnan. He petitioned the IDF General Staff to create a unit that could be dispatched to enemy-held territory to carry out top secret intelligence gathering missions. The unit was initially based on the examples set forth by the SAS. Members of the unit were trained by Bedouin trackers on the finer points of looking and thinking like an Arab. Sayeret Matkal was also formed one year after the IDF's first helicopter squadron became operational and close co-operation between the two allowed Sayeret Matkal to deploy for longer and deeper inside Arab territory than any unit before.
In 1959, a draftee named Ehud Barak was accepted into Sayeret Matkal. He later succeeded Unit 101 commando, Lt. Meir Har-Zion in becoming Israel's most decorated soldier. Whilst with Sayeret Matkal, Ehud Barak participated in many operations, including leading the Operation Isotope (airplane hostage rescue) in 1972 and leading the 1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon. He later progressed in his military career to become the IDF Chief of Staff in 1991 and retired after the end of his tenure in 1995. In 1999 Ehud Barak became the 10th Prime Minister of Israel.
Although a top-secret unit, Sayeret Matkal had a tremendous influence on the IDF. They were the original developers of helicopter infiltration techniques in Israel. In addition, their heavy use of the Uzi led them to convince Israel Military Industries to produce an Uzi with a folding stock for increased accuracy while maintaining its small frame.
Sayeret Matkal has participated in many anti- and counter-terrorist operations, including the storming of a Boeing 707 held by Black September terrorists in 1972 (Operation Isotope), and the killing of a force of bus hijackers in the Gaza Strip. They are probably best known for their actions in the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda (Operation Thunderbolt). There have been rumors linking them with several recent operations but these have never been confirmed by the IDF.
Recruitment and training Edytuj
The unit was kept top-secret during its initial years. Fighters and commanders were selectively hand-picked, based on personal acquaintances and family members of existing members (all three Netanyahu's brothers also served in the unit, for example).
Since the 1980s, while still secretive, the unit opened to voluntary recruits. Twice a year it holds a notoriously grueling selection camp (Gibush) for potential recruits lasting several sleepless days. The recruits are constantly monitored by doctors and psychologists. Those who make it through the end with passing evaluation marks are admitted.
During the 1990s, this selection camp practice was picked up by other IDF special forces (Sayeret). Lately, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz plans to unify all these camps to prevent recruit burn-outs and medical injury by over-enthusiastic youths.
Once admitted to the unit recruits train for 20 months, with heavy emphasis on small arms, martial arts, orienteering, camouflage, reconnaissance and other skills important for survival behind enemy lines. The training regime consists of the following:
- Four months basic infantry training.
- Two months advanced infantry training.
- Three weeks parachuting course in the IDF Parachuting School.
- Five weeks counter-terror (CT) course in the IDF Counter-Terror Warfare School, followed by more inner-unit CT training.
- The rest of the training is dedicated to long-range reconnaissance patrol training, and especially to navigation/orienteering, which is of vast importance in the unit. While most of the orienteering training is done in pairs for safety reasons, as in every other unit in the IDF, Sayeret Matkal is one of the handful of IDF elite units which conducts long-range solo navigation exercises.
Although Sayeret Matkal has its own insignia, it is also one of the few units in the IDF whose soldiers are not allowed to wear it in public due to its classified nature.
Notable (former) Sayeret Matkal figures Edytuj
Despite being a top-secret and relatively small army unit, former Sayeret Matkal veterans have a disproportionate influence on the army and public service. This may partly be due to the fact that rigorous screening and training (second only to that of the Israeli Air Force pilot academy) ensures that only the most capable and motivated Israeli youths are accepted by the unit as fighters.
- Ehud Barak - unit commander, Stanford graduate, later IDF Chief of Staff and Israeli Prime Minister
- Benjamin Netanyahu - unit team leader, MIT graduate, later Israeli Prime Minister
- Yonatan Netanyahu - unit commander, killed in Operation Thunderbolt (Entebbe, Uganda). Benjamin Netanyahu's older brother.
- Shaul Mofaz - unit deputy commander, later IDF Chief of Staff and Israeli Defense Minister.
- Moshe Yaalon - unit commander, later IDF Chief of Staff
- Danny Yatom - unit deputy commander, later a General, head of Mossad and a Knesset member
- Avi Dichter - unit fighter, later head of Israel's General Security Service (Shabak, aka Shin Bet), later the minister of internal security
- Several other unit veterans who later became army generals and Knesset members
There is a widely held misconception that former Israeli Major General and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also served in Sayeret Matkal. He did (while a Major) create and command the IDF's first special-forces unit (Unit 101) in 1953, which many people feel was the organizational parent of Sayeret Matkal. However, when Unit 101 was merged into the Paratroopers Brigade in 1954, Sharon became brigade commander, and never served in Sayeret Matkal.
Known operations Edytuj
Note: Until recently the Israeli army had an official policy of denying existence of this unit. Operations were generally attributed to "elite paratroopers". Sayeret Matkal operations are still kept secret to this day. However, due to the unit's successes in daring operations, it soon became a very publicly-known secret in Israeli society.
- 1968 - Operation Shock - Sabotage of power plant and Nile bridges in Egypt (jointly with Israeli Air Force)
- 1968 - Operation Gift - Sabotage of 14 Arab airliners in Beirut International Airport, Lebanon
- 1969 - Operations Orchard 22, Orchard 37 - Assaults on high voltage wires and a control antenna in Egypt
- 1969 - Operation Bulmus 6 - Assault on fortified Green Island, Egypt (jointly with Shayetet 13)
- 1969 - Operation Rooster 53 - Seizing an entire Egyptian radar installation (jointly with Israeli Air Force)
- 1970 - Operation Rhodes - Assault on fortified Shadwan Island, Egypt (jointly with Shayetet 13)
- 1972 - Operation Isotope - Foiling the Hijacking of Sabena Flight 572 in Tel Aviv, Israel (hostages rescue)
- 1972 - Operation Crate 3 - Kidnapping 5 Syrian intelligence officers
- 1973 - Operation Spring of Youth - Killing Black September terrorist leaders in Beirut, Lebanon (jointly with Shayetet 13)
- 1973 - Recapture of Mount Hermon from Syrian commandos in the Yom Kippur War (jointly with Golani Brigade)
- 1973 - Deep interdiction ambushes in Egypt and Syria during the Yom Kippur War
- 1974 - Ma'alot massacre (school hostages rescue)
- 1975 - Savoy Operation (hotel hostages rescue)
- 1976 - Operation Entebbe, Foiling an Air France aircraft hijacking in Entebbe, Uganda (hostages rescue)
- 1978 - Coastal Road Massacre (bus hostages rescue)
- 1980 - Misgav Am (Kibbutz hostages rescue)
- 1984 - Kav 300 affair (bus hostages rescue, see The Shabak's years of crisis)
- 1988 - Tunis Raid - assassination of Abu Jihad, in Tunis, Tunisia
- 1989 - Sheik Abdul-Karim Obeid kidnapping, Lebanon (see Ron Arad)
- 1994 - Mustafa Dirani kidnapping, Lebanon (see Ron Arad)
- 1994 - Nachshon Waxman (foiled hostage rescue)
- 2006 - Attack near Hezbollah stronghold Baalbek (disrupt weapons smuggling)
The 2003 dissidentsEdytuj
On December 21, 2003 thirteen Sayeret Matkal reservists - the most senior being an officer at the rank of Rav Seren (Major) - presented to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem a letter declaring their refusal to perform military service in the Occupied Territories:
"We have come to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that we will no longer be accomplices to the reign of oppression in the Territories and the denial of the most elementary human rights of millions of Palestinians, nor shall we be the shield of settlements erected on confiscated land".
The letter aroused a strong controversy, due to Sayeret Matkal having a high prestige in the Israeli society. It was especially strongly denounced by mainstream political figures who had their origin in the ranks of the unit, such as former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu.
Knesset Member Shaul Yahalom of the right-wing National Religious Party called for the signatories to be court-martialed and jailed, while MK Roman Bronfman of the left-wing Meretz party praised the letter as "a brave step intended to save Israel from the occupation".
In the event, none of the signatories was tried, but they were all expelled from the ranks of Sayeret Matkal. In what was described as "an effort to stem the tide", the unit's commander circulated among his remaining soldiers and officers a letter condemning the refusers for having "abused their membership in Sayeret Matkal for political aims".
A year later Adv. Dov Weissglass, confidential adviser of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, admitted that "The Sayeret Matkal Letter" - as well as a similar letter by Israeli Air Force pilots published in September 2003 - was among the factors leading PM Sharon to resolve upon the Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza:
"Time was not on our side. There was international erosion, internal erosion. Domestically, in the meantime, everything was collapsing. The economy was stagnant, and the Geneva Initiative had gained broad support. And then we were hit with the letters of officers and letters of pilots and letters of commandos [refusing to serve in the territories]. These were not weird kids with green pony-tails and a ring in their nose with a strong odour of grass. These were really our finest young people."
See also Edytuj
Israeli Special Forces:
Similar foreign special forces units:
- BOPE (Brazil)
- SAS, SBS (UK)
- SASR (Australia)
- NZSAS (New Zealand)
- Delta Force (USA)
- KSK, GSG 9 (Germany)
- GIGN, EPIGN, RAID (France)
- Spetsnaz (Russia)
- Joint Task Force 2 (Canada)
- MARCOS (India)
- GROM (Poland)
- ↑ "New Wave of Refusers from Elite Reserve Unit" By Amos Harel and Mazal Mualem, Haaretz, Haaretz, December 22, 2003
- ↑ Interview in Haaretz, 8/10/04
- ↑ World Socialist Web Site, 9/10/04