Special forces units earn commendations over months-long West Bank operation

IDF chief to honor Golani recon battalion, Yamam for ‘achievements’ against terror group members; Duvdevan, undercover Border Police unit to receive 2nd-highest military citation

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

File: Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion and the police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit are to receive official commendations from the chief of the Israeli military over their “significant” role in a months-long operation in the West Bank aimed at preventing Palestinian terrorists from committing attacks.

The Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday that the two units are to be awarded the highest level of military citation during a ceremony Tuesday for taking “a significant part” and “in light of their achievements in combat” in the operation, known in the army as “Break the Wave.”

The IDF’s anti-terror offensive, mostly focused on the northern West Bank, was launched following a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people earlier this year.

An Israeli man was killed in an attack in Hebron last month, another woman was killed in Holon in a suspected attack in September, and four soldiers have been killed in the West Bank in attacks and during the arrest operations, including a Yamam member.

The campaign has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids and has left over 125 Palestinians dead. Many of those were killed while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved bystanders.

The IDF’s elite Duvdevan unit and the Border Police’s West Bank undercover unit were also to be awarded citations, the second highest, by a major general, which in this case is the head of IDF’s Central Command.

There are four levels of military citations.

Israeli troops arrest a wanted Palestinian man in the West Bank, early on October 26, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The four special forces units have been involved in the nightly raids, as well as more major operations such as the targeting of members of the Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror group.

The ad hoc terror group, which had formed in the summer, claimed responsibility for near-nightly attacks on soldiers and settlements, including a shooting on October 11 that left a soldier dead.

Last month, Israeli troops raided a house used by Lion’s Den in Nablus’s old city, killing the apparent leader of the group and four other gunmen, and destroyed a bomb factory. That came a day after another senior member was killed in a bombing attributed to Israel.

At least a dozen members of Lion’s Den have turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority security services, including some prominent members, reportedly as part of a deal granting them protection from the Israeli crackdown. which has also led to a number of arrests in recent weeks.

Israeli security forces deploy on the roof of a Palestinian home during a search of Salem near the West Bank city of Nablus, following a shooting attack claimed by the Lion’s Den faction, Oct. 2, 2022. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

The number of shootings in the Nablus area has dropped significantly in recent weeks, amid the IDF’s offensive actions against the terror group and other armed Palestinians.

“We chose to award the commendations to the units that stood out in their activities during Operation ‘Break the Wave’ aimed at thwarting terrorism [in the West Bank,] preventing attacks on the home front and protecting Israeli citizens,” said IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, who is awarding two of the commendations.

Deputy Commissioner Amir Cohen of the Border Police, who oversees two of the units receiving commendations, hailed the move.

An undated photo of IDF chief Aviv Kohavi (right) and commander of the Border Police Amir Cohen (left) at the Border Police West Bank headquarters. (Israel Police)

“The hand-in-hand work of the various security bodies is a significant element in maintaining the security of Israel,” Cohen said in a statement published by police.

Mentioning Command Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, a veteran commando in the Yamam unit who was killed by Palestinian gunmen as troops were wrapping up an arrest operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in May, Cohen said: “Noam was a partner in hundreds of complex operations deep within [enemy] territory, and is a symbol of the values ​​of the unit and the corps.”

A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, accused of being involved in the shooting that killed Raz, was shot dead by undercover Border Police officers in Jenin on Thursday.

Raz is also slated to receive a posthumous citation by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai during a ceremony this month.

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