Brig. Gen. David Laskov is most famous for a unique invention: his mobile floating bridge. This floating bridge, made of foam-filled rollers, ended up being one of the major technological achievements of the Yom Kippur War. It allowed the IDF (Zahal) to win the war on the southern front by enabling IDF (Zahal) tanks to cross the Suez Canal, just as Brig. Gen. Laskov envisioned. The unit which created the bridge is still hard at work today.
Yiftach is a research and development unit for specialized technologies. It works extremely fast – in just a few hours, soldiers from this unit can find creative solutions to the problems encountered by elite units during an operation. All of their creations are at first considered top secret and then later are made public and put into use throughout the IDF (Zahal).
A Key Unit in the Yom Kippur War
One of the unit’s best-known achievements is the establishment of a floating bridge made of rollers, which proved essential in enabling IDF (Zahal) tanks to cross the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. However, the idea was initially rejected by then-Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General David (Dado) Elazar after an investigation into its feasibility which considered it impossible to carry and use. After much pressure, however, the project went forward and was completed in 1972. It was the first bridge made of floating rollers capable of withstanding the weight of military tanks. The system consists of connecting plastic cylinders that are filled with foam, allowing it to float. The system is deployed in a chain, allowing its length to be variable depending on the number of cylinders. There is no limit to the length of the bridge.
Brig. Gen. Laskov and soldiers on the revolutionary floating bridge.
Brigadier General David Laskov, the Original Tech Mastermind
Brigadier General David Laskov, founder of the Yiftach unit and mastermind behind the bridge, is considered the oldest soldier to ever serve in the IDF (Zahal). He was in active service right up until his death in 1989 at the age of 86. Brig. Gen. Laskov was born in Russia in 1903. He studied medicine and architecture before immigrating to Israel in 1928, where he completed his studies in architecture at the Technion in Haifa, northern Israel.
Brigadier General David Laskov, founder of Yiftach.
At the age of 36, Brig. Gen. Laskov volunteered in the British Army at the outbreak of World War II. As soon as the state of Israel was created, he joined the IDF (Zahal). He was already 45 years old at this point. Because of the degrees that he had completed, Brig. Gen. Laskov was appointed as an engineering officer for the Golani Brigade. In 1958, he founded “Team Laskov” with the intent to coordinate between the Combat Engineering Corps and the complex and specialized problems that the IDF (Zahal) encountered in the field. This small team became the separate Yiftach unit.
Brig. Gen. Laskov participated in every Israeli War up until the First Lebanon War and for his dedication to the State of Israel, he was awarded the Israel Defense Prize twice, in 1964 and 1973.
Yiftach’s Major Technological Advances
Today, Yiftach carries out major weapons and technology projects to give the IDF (Zahal) the strategic advantage in its mission to defend Israel. While we can’t reveal projects currently in progress, here are some of the unit’s past achievements:
1 . The “Wolf” Rocket
This rocket was designed to destroy buildings and fortifications both above and below ground. Its architecture is based on Katyusha missiles that can reach targets from a few hundred meters to several kilometers. It was especially effective during the War of Attrition. Following the outbreak of war with Egypt, the IDF (Zahal) decided to target the Egyptian Chief of Staff and other high-ranking officials of the Egyptian army using the “Wolf” Rocket.
2 . The Anti-Mine Snake
This weapon neutralizes mines to allow passage above the mine. The system consists of a long wire that contains and deploys explosives that are aimed at the field to blow up the mines present there.
The Anti-Mine Snake
3 . The Laskov Missile
The missile was designed to reach hidden targets inside a building. Instead of completely exploding when it hits a wall, a part of the missile has an opening that allows a second blast to enter the building and reach the target.
The Laskov Missile
4 . Demining Sandals
Composed of a plywood plate coated in spongy material, these sandals allow soldiers to move through minefields. The purpose of this tool is to distribute the weight of the soldier by taking up more space on the ground, which minimizes the amount of pressure on a mine.