Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Givati Brigade - Israel's Southern Defense Strength

The IDF's Givati Brigade went into action again on Monday in Israel's southern border with Gaza. Often considered to be the equivalent of the Israeli Military's famed Golani Brigade, stationed mostly on Israel's northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, the Givati Brigade is the IDF's elite mechanized infantry brigade whose primary function is to defend Israel's long southern border with both Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Formed in 1948 during the War of Independence, what became known as the Hativat Givati Brigade has seen combat action in virtually all of Israel's wars with her Arab neighbors. Since the start of the second Palestinian uprising, better known as the "Al Aqsa Intifada" or "the second Intifada" in the year 2000, Givati Brigade forces have been deployed along the borders of the Gaza Strip, and have seen action on numerous occasions against Palestinian insurgents and terrorists who continue to engage in acts of terror against Israeli towns and settlements in the country's southern regions.

Givati Brigade soldiers, distinguished by their special insignia and purple berets, have been decorated time and time again for acts of bravery under fire; including such notable operations as the one in 2004, when Palestinian terrorists used UN vehicles in order to transport fighters and arms for use against Jewish settlers living in Gaza settlements.

The Givati Brigade is divided into three battalions: Shaked, Zabar, and Rotem. They also have special units involved in reconnaissance, amphibious assault operations, and engineering units. One unit in particular, the 846 Shualey Shimshon, or Samson's Foxes, was patterned after the famous British 'Desert Foxes' Battalion that distinguished itself in North Africa during WWII.

Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in August 2005, Israeli forces, including those of the Givati Brigade, have had to re-enter the Strip on several occasions to either capture or kill terrorists and militia forces suspected of planning and carrying out acts of terror against Israel. Many of these military actions have been in response to continued launchings of home-made "Kassam" rockets, of which more than 4,000 have been launched against Israelis, most notably targeting towns such as Sderot.

Following the kidnapping of IDF Corporal Gilad Schalit in June 2006, Givati Brigade soldiers have been involved in a number of military actions inside Gaza, including Operation Summer Rains, which resulted in over 300 terrorists being killed, and Operation Hot Winter in early 2008.

In the aftermath of several attacks on Israelis involved in transporting fuel and other supplies into Gaza, and the continuous missile barrages, including those of longer range against the city of Ashqelon, the IDF is said to be planning another large scale offensive on the level of Operation Summer Rain. Meanwhile, small Givati units continue to enter the Strip to carry out operations against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists such as the most recent one on June 16, in which 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed.

The Givati Brigade, like the Golani Brigade in the north, will continue to do its duty to protect Israeli civilians for as long as this is necessary, since no peace has yet been made with groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and others bent on attacking innocent people in Israel. We who live in the Jewish State owe a great deal to these fine young men who constantly put themselves at risk to guard and protect their fellow Israeli citizens.

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