The Givati reconnaissance battalion is an elite combat unit in the Israel Defense Forces. It is also called “Shuali Shimshon” (Samson’s Foxes) after the legendary recon unit active in southern Israel during the War of Independence.
The unit is composed of three companies:
Force Recon company (Sayeret) – Specializes in deep reconnaissance and direct action (DA) operations.
Anti-Tank company (Palnat) – Specializes in camouflage and operating guided missiles.
Demolition Company (Palchan) – Specializes in explosives and combat engineering.
The companies were established in 1983-1984. Until 2001 each company functioned as an autonomous unit under the Southern Command. In 2001, as part of a strategic reorganization, they were consolidated into one unit called Gadsar Givaty (Givati reconnaissance battalion).
To get in to the unit one may pass a strict screening process. This is done by tryouts which challenge the candidates physical and mental capabilities. After one is accepted he faces 14 months of training before receivin. The training is split into two phases:
- Five month of basic and advanced infantry training within the Givati Brigade.
- Seven month of special unit training.
At the completion of the first phase, recruits begin a specialized training regimen in the unit. The training program is known to be one of the toughest in the IDF, as can be explained by the notably high drop rate of recruits.
The training program is designed to bring recruits to their mental and physical limits in order to prepare them for their operational service. Among other things, the recruits train in extensive long-range navigation/orienteering, camouflage, reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, and various kinds of warfare and assaults.
Over the past three and a half decades, the unit has taken an active and central role in Israel’s military battles against its enemies and has carried out countless operations and raids defending the country’s borders and citizens.
The unit’s first missions were in the 1980’s when it joined operations against Hezbollah in the security zone of southern Lebanon. However the unit is best known for its successful operations in the Gaza Strip. After many missions into Gaza, the unit developed a thorough familiarity with the geographic and demographic features of the area as well as the military capabilities of Hamas. This deep knowledge of the territory, civilian populations and the enemy made the Givati Reconnaissance the first choice of commanders on almost every mission into the Gaza Strip. The unit is responsible for hundreds of operations in the Gaza Strip and the elimination of countless terrorists.
In the early 2000’s, Givati accomplishments in the field were recognized with the bestowal of the Medal of Distinguished Service. In 2014 the units soldiers received the most medals and commendations in the IDF for their successes in combat during Operation Protective Edge.
During it’s years of service, the unit has lost 54 of it’s soldiers and officers.