Paratroop Reconnaissance Unit:
'The enemy's hiding, but we manage to surprise him'

Commander of Paratroopers' elite unit operating in Samaria in recent months: 'The less you hear about us, the better.'

Yoni Kempinski ,

Paratroop Recon Unit
Paratroop Recon Unit
IDF Spokesman

The commander of the Paratroopers elite unit, Major Noam, told Arutz Sheva about the unit's activities in the Samaria region and its preparations for the Sukkot holiday, during which multitudes of Jews will visit historic sites and national parks throughout Judea and Samaria.

The requirements to be accepted to a combat unit are particularly high. A fighter in the commando unit is required to undergo a gibush trial period prior to selection for the elite Paratroopers Brigade and then another gibush selection to reach the commando unit. Training the elite Sayeret fighters lasts about 14 months.

In the past three months, the unit's soldiers have been operating in the Samaria area. "Our job is to protect the residents and the roads, to provide peace and quiet to those who live here and to those who come to visit here," says Major Noam.

In our youth we all want to join the elite Sayeret units. What is a paratrooper reconnaissance unit?

"The paratroopers sayeret is a magnificent unit with a long history of operations, 61 years. The unit was established in 1956 and was led by commanders who are engraved in all of our hearts: from Meir Har Zion, Shaul Mofaz, Bogey Ya'alon to Hagai Ben Ari - who was supposed to take up leadership of the commando unit but was wounded and killed in Operation Protective Edge.

"The unit deals extensively with thwarting hostile enemy activity, and in the past operated in Lebanon during the period of the security zone, and since the beginning of the 2000s has carried out a large number of activities against organizations in Judea and Samaria.

The public is exposed to your activities every morning with the IDF Spokesman announcements about the arrest of wanted persons in Judea and Samaria.

"From our point of view, the banal message that you and civilians at home receive says we're doing our job properly along with the hard work of the rest of the army, Shin Bet, and police.

"Every single night in our quiet way we carry out arrests, searches, weapon seizures, entrances to villages and cities." The goal, says the commander of the sayeret, is "to maintain the peace. The less you hear about us, the better; it means we're doing our job."

Is most activity based on advance intelligence or ongoing activity with what you encounter in the field?

"It's hard to divide it, we work on two axes. One axis involves less intelligence, when our objective is to disrupt and thwart terror in defense of the Jewish communities from within the enemy's strategic depth, within the Palestinian villages and cities.

"The second axis is based on intelligence; we get information about specific organizations or about people who need to be stopped before they carry out their plans and that's how we operate."

The commando unit's leader is proud of the deterrence that he and his fighters in the Judea and Samaria region are creating. "We also manage to surprise the enemy, we pinpoint the problematic terrorist elements who then feel chased from within their own side, so the enemy is constantly on the run."

Major Noam makes no distinction between the types of attacks against which Sayeret fighters operate. "We deal at all levels, a stone is the same as gunfire which is identical to a bomb; a stone that hits an unarmed vehicle does damage and can cause great disaster as we've experienced in the past. We act on all levels to prevent and thwart incidents.

"There's a sense of success from the arrests being made and the many weapons seizures that take place in our sector. A week ago, we carried out a large weapon seizure in the Balata refugee camp, an incident that shook the refugee camp by its strength and scope. We understand that we do not know everything but we're ready for everything we can be."

On the connection between the reconnaissance unit and the rest of the IDF forces and with the communities in Judea and Samaria Major Noam says "We have a very close connection; we are here for the residents, so that they can go outside and travel outside the community, that the roads will be open," says Major Noam.

"The connection is also personal between defense elements within the communities and also with the citizens themselves, seeing them traveling on the roads, walking, smiling, and feeling safe. That's our goal, and that connection is preserved."

Does political discourse on religion seep into daily life in the unit?

"Neither into the unit nor the army. We are united and have a shared purpose. The religious and non-religious soldiers work as one body in brotherhood, both within the commando unit and outside the commando unit. The discourse outside is sometimes offensive, but within the army it doesn't exist; we act as one body."