In reshuffle, army forms new Faran Brigade to defend Israel-Egypt border

IDF closes the Sagi Regional Brigade, replacing it with a unit tasked with both training soldiers and deploying them along the border as part of streamlining effort

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the creation of the new Faran Brigade in the Israel Defense Forces, which will defend the Egyptian-Israeli border, in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the creation of the new Faran Brigade in the Israel Defense Forces, which will defend the Egyptian-Israeli border, in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday announced it was reorganizing the units responsible for guarding the southern border with Egypt, closing the current brigade, and replacing it with a new one with additional responsibilities.

The Sagi Regional Brigade will be shuttered, and, in its place, the Faran Brigade will defend the Egyptian border, from the area of Holot Halutza to just north of the city of Eilat.

However, unlike the Sagi Brigade, which was solely responsible for guarding the border area, the new Faran Brigade will also be responsible for training and managing the forces who serve in the area.

In general in the IDF, regional brigades are static units located in a particular portion of the country, which direct and control the combat brigades that temporarily provide the actual manpower to defend those areas. For instance, the Givati Brigade can serve inside the Golan Brigade, along the Syrian border, for a four-month stretch, before another combat brigade replaces it.

The new Faran Brigade will effectively combine those two roles, both training and preparing the troops for their service, and commanding them once they are deployed along the border.

The move comes amid a general effort in the IDF to streamline its forces, particularly those part of its Border Defense Force, which was formed last year and comprises the army’s four co-ed light infantry battalions, along with combat intelligence units and trackers.

The combat soldiers who will be part of the Faran Brigade will come from the Border Defense Force’s mixed-gender Bardelas and Caracal Battalions, the army said.

Col. Eli Yitzhak Ben-Bashat, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’s new Faran Brigade, which will defend the Egyptian-Israeli border, speaks to officers in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Col. Eli Yitzhak Ben-Bashat was chosen to command the new brigade.

“I believe and am sure that with the troops at our disposal, with the experience and motivation, we will continue to defend the borders of the State of Israel in the best way possible,” Ben-Bashat said in a statement.

The newly formed brigade has already held a small exercise in order to see how the different units that make up the brigade function together, the army said.

The soldiers in the brigade will wear the speckled, yellow, green and brown berets of the Border Defense Force and red boots, along with a newly designed tag on their shoulder.

The name Faran was chosen as it was used in the Bible to refer to a desert in the Sinai Peninsula, near the border with the Land of Israel, along where the new brigade will be positioned.

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