New IDF team will specialize in hunting terrorists

The unit was established after several terrorists evaded capture for weeks following their attacks.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF’s new Special Operations Combat Team successfully finished its first exercise last week in hunting down terrorists, Makor Rishon reported on Sunday.

The special operations group was established after a series of deadly terror attacks over the past year in Judea and Samaria ended with the perpetrators evading capture for days and even weeks.

“It was clear that we had to change our outlook,” one of the team’s commanders told the paper, after the shootings near the Gilad Farm (January 2018), in the Barkan industrial zone (October 2018), and the stabbing and shooting near the Ariel Junction (March 2019) left five people dead and the killers at large.

“Following the attacks, the team developed advanced techniques in cooperation with elite [IDF] units, including those that specialize in undercover work and collecting intelligence,” he said.

“We called the team the ‘Special Operations Depth Combat Team.’ Immediately after an attack, all the units gather at the site under a single commander at the brigade level, with each bringing its own abilities. We created a synergy whose goal is to capture the terrorist.”

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Special unit member

Special unit member (IDF)

According to the IDF, most intelligence gathering – electronic and human – is done by members of Battalion 636. The elite Duvdevan unit is the one that goes undercover into Arab villages.

They work with soldiers currently on duty in Judea and Samaria. But there are others in the group whose identity is still being kept a closely guarded secret.

The intense, two-day army exercise gave the ‘terrorists’ 12 hours to hide.

It tested the new team’s abilities to first reconstruct the attack, and then track the fleeing men, said the IDF. They made good use of security cameras scattered around much of the region and put all their intelligence means into play to search for their targets.

The war-room constantly rang with phone calls as additional information poured in, and the commanders called in more forces as necessary until the ‘capture’ was made.

The officer quoted in Makor Rishon expressed confidence that the special unit will catch future terrorists far more quickly than before.

“The minute that everyone comes to the [attack] site under one brain, one commander, the chase is more efficient,” he said in the report.

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“The special forces will immediately join the [community’s] first responders and get the information they need. The overlap will be faster and more efficient, and will get us to the critical hours much more prepared.”