In a ceremony certifying the elite naval commandos, IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff spoke of the soldiers’ valor while Commander of the Israeli Navy praised both soldiers and parents

Date: 04/11/2010, 11:01 AM     Author: Netael Bendel, Navy writer

A ceremony certifying the Israeli Navy’s elite naval commandos took place on Wednesday (Nov. 4) at IDF (Zahal) naval base Atlit, attended by IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as Commander of the Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom and Commander of Shayetet 13 (the elite naval commando unit), Col. S’.

Twenty naval commandos belonging to the crew dubbed Z have just completed one of the IDF (Zahal)’s most difficult and challenging training courses. They stood tall as the Chief of the General Staff unveiled the bat pins (Shayetet 13’s insignia). “When I look at them, I don’t believe in impossible,” said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, who added, turning to the naval commandos, “in order to withstand hardships you will need to set new records of valor while maintaining your personal values, and come home winners.”

Crew Z, currently completing its combat training course, is one of the crews which took part in the Ruchot Shamayim 7 Operation (of the Gaza Strip bound flotilla in May, 2010) which prevented people connected with the IHH organization from entering the Gaza Strip. “During this operation, they encountered a group of terrorists whose sole purpose was to kill or kidnap IDF (Zahal) soldiers,” said Commander of the Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, adding that “recently, Shayetet 13 has taken part in a number of operations in which they acted swiftly and productively, most of these operations have not been exposed and will remain so.”

The sayings “behind the scenes” and “far from the public eye” were heard time after time throughout the evening and for good reason. Shayetet 13 regularly takes part in operations and is one of the most active units in the IDF (Zahal) today. The events which took place on the Marmara were but one small example of the bevy of operations that Shayetet 13 takes part in, and few of today’s action films could portray them. The unit’s professionalism can be seen in its ability to carry out operations in unfathomably short periods of time.

A senior official of Shayetet 13 who spoke at the ceremony said that today, the unit is able to move its base in mere hours to anywhere in Israel, even with its full schedule going from operation to operation, even doing several operations simultaneously. The unit operates in enemy territory, too, far away from Israel’s shores in operations which could not be elaborated on.

Twenty years ago, a father and son went for a tour of Givat Hatachmoshet (the site of a Six Day War battle). During the tour, a young writer from Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) approached them saying she was writing her first article and was interested in interviewing the boy. When his father agreed the boy told the writer about his experience there and his desire to serve in the IDF (Zahal) as a combat soldier. The young writer’s name was Yonit Levi, today an anchor of Channel 2 news, and the boy is A’ who completed the course with his friends on crew Z, said his father as he told the story after the ceremony, unable to stop the tears from coming. “You gave them the values and you should be proud,” said Commander of the Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, to parents at the ceremony, “we will do everything in our power to be worthy of your trust.”