For over a month, the elite Shaked Battalion of the Givati Brigade has been stationed along the Gaza border. The soldiers face two major threats on this front: The explosive devices placed near the border fence and the underground tunnels dug by Hamas.
Captain Elihai Rozen, a company commander in the Shaked Battalion, is well aware of the importance of his role as a defender of the Gaza border. “We must not underestimate the enemy,” he recently told the IDF (Zahal) Blog. “My responsibility is to prepare the soldiers to protect Israeli citizens in any scenario.”
Routine security operations are intensive near the border with Gaza. IDF (Zahal) soldiers constantly patrol along the border and guards alternate every 12 hours. When soldiers are not on patrol, they are still on duty as an emergency support force, and they are called whenever suspicious movement or any other threat is spotted.
“Recently, a man approached the security fence and almost came in contact with the soldiers,” Cpt. Rozen said. “Fortunately, he was not armed and did not intend to harm them. A while before that, one of our unmanned ground vehicles was detonated. Such incidents require us to be extremely vigilant.”
Gaza is the region with the largest number of attacks by means of explosive devices. “Terrorists place these devices in areas where they think we have weak monitoring points,” Cpt. Rozen explained. “We check the area regularly with armored vehicles. Additionally, anything that arouses suspicion is checked right away.”
The underground threat
In recent years, the IDF (Zahal) has learned how to thwart underground terror attacks from Gaza into Israel, adapting itself to enemy capabilities. “In each of our companies, platoons undergo special training in addition to regular combat training. Selected soldiers learn to fight in underground areas,” Cpt. Rozen said. “This is something new in the IDF (Zahal).”
On October 7, an underground tunnel was discovered not far from the Shaked Battalion’s base. “We have our own techniques to explore the tunnels,” Cpt. Rozen stressed. “We are always prepared for the possibility that terrorists will use these tunnels.”
Although Gaza rocket fire decreased by 98 percent in 2013, terrorists have fired more than 110 rockets at Israel since the beginning of this year. This situation makes the Gaza border area more threatening than ever.