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Israel: secret services

by Andre Gasiorowski

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Israeli Special Forces Units

  • Principal 3 special forces units: 
    • Sayeret Matkal to obtain strategic intelligence behind enemy lines and to perform hostage-rescue missions on foreign soil
    • Shayetet 13 naval commando unit, equivalent to the US Navy SEALs
    • Shaldag Unit specializing in forward air control, aerial & special reconnaissance, and target designation outside of Israel’s borders
  • Infantry Corps: 
  • infantry brigades
  • Armored Corps
  • Artillery Corps
    • Meitar/Moran – a unit operating long range precision-guided missiles.
  • Combat Engineering Corps
    • Sayeret Yahalom – missions range from EOD and bomb disposal to counter-mining warfare.
  • Combat Intelligence Collection Corps
    • Special forces detachments belonging to the Corps.
  • Air Force
  • Navy
  • Other units
    • Maglan – specializes in operating behind enemy lines, only became publicly known in 2006.
    • LOTAR Eilat – reserve force counter-terrorism/hostage-rescue unit based at the southern Israeli port city of Eilat.

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Israeli Intelligence Community

Israeli Prime Minister’s Office

(Hebrew: משרד ראש הממשלה‎) is the governmental ministration office with the responsibility of coordinating the actions of the work of all governmental ministry offices, on various matters, and serving and assisting the Israeli Prime Minister in his daily work. Among other things, it is responsible for formulating the Israeli cabinet’s policy, conducting its cabinet meetings, as well as responsible for the foreign diplomatic relations with countries around the world, and supervising and overseeing the implementation of the Cabinet’s policy. In addition, it is in charge of other governmental bodies, which are directly under the Prime Minister responsibilities. Unlike many other countries, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel does not serve as his residence place as well, and in addition to his daily work office, he resides elsewhere, at the official residence of the prime minister in Beit Aghion.

Subdivisions:

  • National Security Council of Israel – National security counseling to the Prime Minister of Israel, security recommendations to the Cabinet of Israel, guiding and coordinating between the various security bodies of Israel, supervising and overseeing the implementation of the decisions concerning the various security bodies.
  • Atomic Energy Commission – responsible for the nuclear activities of Israel.
  • Israel Institute for Biological Research – engaged in research of biology, microbiology, and chemistry, and is known for developing preemptive defendable means against biological and chemical weapons.
  • Mossad – The Israeli intelligence body.
  • Shin Bet – internal security service of Israel.
  • National Economic Council – Economic counseling to the Prime Minister of Israel, and assisting him with formulating the economic policy, while designated to focus on the long term planning.
  • Government Appellation Committee – determines the Hebrew names for the Israeli geographical places, and its decisions are binding for all state institutions.
  • Lapam – (acronym for [Israel’s] Governmental Publications Bureau) – A unit within the Prime Minister’s office serving as an advertising agency for all governmental ministry offices, and other governmental or public bodies.
  • La’am – (acronym for [Israel’s] Governmental Press Bureau) – A unit within the Prime Minister’s office responsible for handing Journalist diploma for Israeli mass media workers and giving a Journalist visa to foreign Journalists staying in Israel. In addition, it is in charge of coordinating between the Cabinet of Israel and the foreign Journalists community staying in Israel on media activities matters.
  • Israel Central Bureau of Statistics – an Israeli governmental body responsible to carry out research and publish statistical data on all aspects of Israeli life, including population, society, economy, industry, education and physical infrastructure, that will serve the decision makers and the public.
  • Israel State Archive
  • National Authority for Religious Services.
  • Minhelet Sela – A governmental directorate responsible for the evacuees of the Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, especially for finding them an alternative dwelling places, compensations, livelihood and psychological support on adjustment.
  • Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel (or ministrations) – A unit within the Prime Minister’s office responsible for Pensioners, elders and the Holocaust survivors. Currently, The Prime Minister himself, Benjamin Netanyahu is the Minister for Pensioner Affairs.

Parliamentary supervision

Parliamentary supervision over the intelligence community is undertaken by the Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services, a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which supervises the entire Israeli Security Forces.

Security forces

in Israel (also known as Israel security establishment, Hebrew: מערכת הבטחון, Ma’arechet ha’Bitachon) include a variety of organizations, including law enforcement, military, paramilitary, governmental, and intelligence agencies.

Military

Police

  • Israel Police: a civilian force. As with most other police forces in the world, its duties include crime fighting, traffic control and maintaining public safety.

Israeli police officers and a patrol car

  • Civil Guard (Mishmar Ezrahi): A volunteer organization of Israeli citizens which assists in daily police work. It is a subdivision of the Israel Police.
  • Border Police (Magav): the military branch (gendarmerie) of the Israeli Police.

Israeli Intelligence Community

  • Shabak (Israel Security Agency) Sherut HaBitahon HaKlali (Hebrew: שירות הבטחון הכללי‎, “General Security Agency”): the organization responsible for internal security, including in the Israeli-controlled territories.
  • Mossad (The Institute) HaMosad LeModi’in VLeTafkidim Meyuhadim (Hebrew: המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים‎, “The Institute for Intelligence and for Special Tasks”): the agency responsible for foreign intelligence.
  • Aman (Directorate of Military Intelligence) Agaf HaModi’in: Military intelligence, or Aman, produces comprehensive national intelligence estimates for the prime minister and cabinet, daily intelligence reports, risk of war estimates, target studies on nearby countries, and communications intercepts. Aman also conducts across-border agent operations. Aman is an independent service, co-equal with the army, navy and air force. Aman has an estimated staff of 7,000.

Emergency services

  • Magen David Adom (Red Shield of David): Magen David Adom (MDA) is made up of volunteer and professional medical responders and provides the Israel’s pre-hospital emergency medical needs, including disaster, ambulance, and blood services.
  • Israel Fire and Rescue Services: They are responsible for extinguishing fires and extracting people trapped in structures (ranging from stuck elevators to collapsed buildings).
  • Home Front Command: part of the IDF. A military rescue team which handles large-scale civilian disasters such as earthquakes, collapsed buildings and missile attacks on cities.
  • Unit 669: the Israeli Air Force airborne medevac extraction unit.
  • 11 Local Rescue teams in the Golan Heights, Galilee-Carmel, Jezreel Valley, Samaria, Ein Gedi, Megilot, Gush Etzion, Arad, Negev, Arava, and Eilat-Eilot.

Other organizations

  • Israel Prison Service: Sherut Batei ha-Sohar: The Israel Prison Service (IPS), sometimes called by its acronym SHABAS, is a security organization which is an integral part of Israel’s system of law enforcement. Its chief roles include the holding of prisoners and detainees under secure and suitable conditions, while preserving their dignity, and meeting their basic needs. The IPS coordinates with relevant national, regional and municipal authorities and organizations.
  • Knesset Guard: The Knesset has its own guard and usher unit, headed by the Sergeant-at-Arms. The Knesset Guard is in charge of security in the Knesset compound and building. The Serjeant-at-Arms (“Katzin ha-Knesset”) is the commander of the Knesset Guard.

Israeli Special Forces Units

Principal 3 special forces units

These are the most well-known commando units. Their operators are proficient in long range solo navigation, as opposed to other units where long range navigation is done with a minimum of 2 fighters.

  • Sayeret Matkal – The IDF’s principal Sayeret unit, used mainly to obtain strategic intelligence behind enemy lines and to perform hostage-rescue missions on foreign soil. It is directly subordinate to the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate (AMAN).
  • Shayetet 13 – The naval commando unit, equivalent to the US Navy SEALs or British Special Boat Service. Also tasked with maritime hostage-rescue missions. Part of the Israeli Navy. Founded in 1948 by former members of the Palyam, the naval branch of the Haganah.
  • Shaldag Unit – Founded in 1974 by several former Sayeret Matkal veterans, it is the Israeli Air Force‘s commando unit, specializing in forward air control, aerial & special reconnaissance, and target designation outside of Israel’s borders.

Infantry Corps

  • Duvdevan Unit – Special undercover unit, surbordinate to the Judea and Samaria Division and Paratroopers Brigade. As a mistaravim unit; operators in the unit are trained conducting undercover operations disguised as Arabs in urban areas. They traditionally do not allow their real identities to become known to people outside their unit, and go to great lengths to avoid being recorded electronically or otherwise.
  • LOTAR unit – IDF’s Counter Terror School.
  • Oketz Unit – the IDF’s special K-9 unit.
  • Egoz Reconnaissance Unit – counter-guerrilla unit, originally for operating in southern Lebanon; part of Golani Brigade.
  • Rimon Reconnaissance Unit – specializes in desert commando, reports to israels’ southern command.
  • Unit Alpinistim – IDF mountain-warfare unit operating in the Golan Heights; provides protection for IDF electronic listening posts on Mount Hermon and Har Avital. This unit also provides alpine rescue services.

Also, four of the five infantry brigades (Golani, Givati, Nahal and Paratroopers) operate their own Palsars (today joint with Pal’nat and Pal’han as “Gad’sar”/Gdoud Siour), the infantry “sayarot”. Each unit is subordinate to a specific regional command, though they are not restricted to these.

Armored Corps

Artillery Corps

  • Meitar/Moran – a unit operating long range precision-guided missiles.

Combat Engineering Corps

  • Sayeret Yahalom – the engineering special forces unit, its missions range from EOD and bomb disposal to counter-mining warfare.

Combat Intelligence Collection Corps

  • Special forces detachments belonging to the Corps.

Air Force

Navy

Other units


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