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Learn About the IDF Special Forces

All of Israel’s armed forces are impressive, but the best of the best are the troops of the elite special forces.

Learn about these renowned IDF units and the ways they’re protecting Israel today!

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) includes various branches and units, and among them are several special forces units (in Hebrew sayeret or plural sayarot) known for their high level of training, expertise, and specialization in unconventional warfare.

Read on to learn about these impressive units, and explore other branches of the IDF through our posts about the Israeli Air Force, the Mossad, the IDF reserves, and the IDF Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue Brigade.

Notable Units of the IDF Special Forces
Israeli soldier training

Some of the most famous and notable of the IDF special forces units include:

1. Sayeret Matkal (General Reconnaissance Unit): Sayeret Matkal is one of the most elite special forces units in the IDF. It is tasked with intelligence gathering, counter-terrorism, and special operations behind enemy lines. The unit is often compared to the U.S. Delta Force and the British SAS.

2. Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13): Shayetet 13 is the naval commando unit of the IDF. It specializes in maritime and amphibious operations, including counter-terrorism, sabotage, and intelligence gathering. The unit is comparable to the U.S. Navy SEALs.

3. Sayeret Maglan: Maglan is a special forces commando unit specializing in deep reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. Its operators are trained to operate deep behind enemy lines, often in small teams, conducting covert missions.

4. Sayeret Yahalom: Yahalom is the IDF's combat engineering unit, specializing in counter-terrorism and demolitions. They are trained to handle explosives, dismantle bombs, and conduct various engineering tasks in combat zones.


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5. Sayeret Egoz: Egoz is a special forces unit specializing in guerrilla warfare and counter-guerrilla operations. It operates primarily in northern Israel and is trained for missions in wooded and mountainous terrain.

6. Sayeret Duvdevan: Made famous by the Israeli show "Fauda," Duvdevan is an elite undercover unit engaged in counter-survelliance as well as high-risk missions such as targeted killings of terrorists. Members of Duvdevan are able to go deep undercover inside Arab populations and even infiltrate terror groups.

7. Yamam: Yamam is an acronym for Yehida Merkazit Meyuhedet or "Special Central Unit." This is an elite unit of the Israel Border Police, responsible for counter-terrorism and hostage-rescue operations in civilian areas.

8. Unit 669: Special Tactics Rescue Unit 669 is an Air Force combat search and rescue unit. They work tightly with other special forces units, and are equivalent to the Pararescue in the U.S. Air Force.

9. Reconnaissance Battalions within regular brigades: Israel's five famous infantry brigades - Golani, Givati, Nahal, Kfir, and the Paratroopers - each have their own elite reconnaissance battalions working closely inside the unit.

Special Forces Fun Facts
Israeli Soldiers Training, IDF -  Israeli army military combat training, June, 2018, Israel

1. Sayeret Matkal, one of the IDF's most elite special forces units, was established in 1957. Initially formed for intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism purposes, it evolved into a multi-purpose special operations unit.

2.Many of the operations conducted by IDF special forces, especially Sayeret Matkal and Duvdevan, are classified, and details are often not disclosed to the public due to the sensitive nature of their missions.

3. Sayeret Matkal served as an inspiration for the formation of other special forces units worldwide, including the U.S. Delta Force. IDF special forces often engage in joint training exercises with special forces units from allied countries, fostering collaboration and sharing expertise in various aspects of unconventional warfare.

4. The training process for Israeli special forces is known for its intensity and duration. Trainees undergo months of grueling physical and mental exercises, including navigation, survival training, hand-to-hand combat, and marksmanship.

5. Israel's special forces are highly trained in counter-terrorism operations, and their skills have been developed through years of experience dealing with the unique security challenges faced by Israel.

6. The IDF recognizes the diverse geographical features of Israel and maintains specialized special forces units for specific terrains, such as Sayeret Golani (for wooded and mountainous terrain) and Sayeret Egoz (for guerrilla warfare in northern Israel).

7. IDF special forces often utilize cutting-edge technology and weaponry. Their proficiency in adapting and employing advanced equipment enhances their effectiveness in various operational scenarios, as they continue to meet Israel's evolving security challenges and defend its population against new threats.


Are you proud of Israel's strongest and bravest who serve in the IDF special forces?

Celebrate the IDF wherever you are with our curated IDF-themed gifts and Support Israel collection, designed by local Israeli artists!



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Learn About the IDF Special Forces
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) includes various branches and units, and among them are several special forces units (in Hebrew