IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Tuesday awarded a combat soldier in Military Intelligence the Medal of Distinguished Service for his role in a secret operation in which he made an “important contribution to the security of the State of Israel.”
In addition to the individual award, the Eisenkot also gave a group commendation to the elite Sayeret Matkal and Military Intelligence special forces units for their part in the operation.
As he serves in an elite, top-secret unit, the soldier’s identity and the details of the operation could not be disclosed.
In a speech, the army chief noted that these units have a storied history of operational achievements. “Nevertheless, I think this operation went beyond that,” he added, noting the commandos’ “dedication to the mission in light of the target and the determination to carry out the mission under complicated conditions.”
“Because of this action, we now have a capability that is extraordinary on the tactical level, on the operational level and on the strategic level,” Eisenkot said.
According to the army, the soldier performed a “prominent and significant” operational achievement, during which he showed “great courage, professionalism, determination, resourcefulness and dedication to the mission — which all set an example.”
The soldier earned the Medal of Distinguished Service, the third-highest honor that the Israel Defense Forces can give, after the Medal of Courage (the second highest) and the Medal of Valor (the highest).
The Sayeret Matkal and intelligence units earned a “citation of praise” from the chief of staff, the highest level possible for this type of award.
The commendation was given to the special operations units for “bravery, determination, resourcefulness and dedication to the mission, under life-threatening conditions.”
Last week, the outgoing head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, awarded his Unit 504 with a “citation of praise” for its activities in 2016 and 2017.
A “citation of praise” from a major-general represents the second-highest level of the award.
The soldiers and officers who make up Unit 504 operate agents in foreign countries and within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who provide intelligence that is analyzed within the Military Intelligence Directorate.