For the first time, one of the IDF Home Front Command’s search-and rescue-battalions, made up of male and female combat soldiers, is operating in the Gaza Strip, the military says.
Troops of the 498th “Shahar” Search and Rescue Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Yarden (whose last name is withheld for security concerns), join the ground forces of the 162nd Division during the offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The IDF says the search and rescue soldiers have most recently been operating in Gaza City’s Shati camp with troops of the 460th Brigade.
The soldiers of the mixed-gender unit have been carrying out tasks “according to their expertise,” the IDF says, including searches for Hamas weaponry.
“The main unique skills are rescue and assistance if a structure collapses on our forces, and breaches. Our rescue equipment serves the maneuvering forces, certainly in built-up and dense areas,” says the commander of the Search And Rescue Brigade, Col. Elad Edri.
For the first time, one of the IDF Home Front Command’s search and rescue battalions, made up of male and female combat soldiers, is operating in the Gaza Strip.
The soldiers of the mixed-gender unit have been carrying out tasks “according to their expertise,” the IDF says,… pic.twitter.com/cWQQht6uwq
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 19, 2023
He says dozens of soldiers from the unit are operating in the Gaza Strip, and around 40% of them are women. “They do all the tasks that the men do,” Edri says.
During a recent raid by the Commando Brigade in a hotel in Gaza, where Hamas operatives were holed up, the 498th Battalion soldiers carried out a breach into an underground site, and discovered inside Hamas weaponry and intelligence materials.
In Shati, the search and rescue soldiers have been fighting alongside the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion.
Yarden, the battalion commander, says the soldiers aided Nahal troops by breaching buildings to enable quicker progress through the camp. “We have tools that the troops don’t have,” she says.
The 498th Battalion also includes engineers who have been advising ground forces on whether or not a damaged building is safe to enter.