Shayetet 13 | Israeli Navy Seals
Shayetet 13 is Israel's elite marine commando unit operating in the sea, on land, and in the air in a variety of daring and special activities. They are often compared to the US Navy SEALs and Britain's Special Boat Service. The details of most missions and identities of active operators are highly classified. They are considered to be one of the best units in the world.
The unit engages in various operational activities, including strategic damage to enemy maritime infrastructures, and gathering high-quality intelligence on enemy operations. Shayetet 13 excels in sea-to-land incursions, counter-terrorism, sabotage, maritime intelligence gathering, maritime hostage rescue, and boarding.
They are the cream of the crop and the tip of the Israeli military’s spear.
Shayetet 13 was established in 1949 with men drawn from the ranks of the Palyam, the naval branch of the Palmach, Israel’s pre-state elite fighting force. From its inception, the existence of Shayetet 13 was kept a state secret. The unit’s operators wore the general Israeli Navy insignia rather than their own unique one as a part of their cover. It was not until 10 years later that information about its existence began to leak and their existence was made public.
The unit's training lasts 20 months, and is considered to be one of the toughest courses in the IDF. Those who enlist in Shayetet 13 are put through a gruelling multi-stage regimen:
It starts with a selection process that puts recruits through a series of physically and mentally challenging exercises for four days. The few who succeed in passing this phase move on to six months of basic and advanced infantry training.
Next is the Preparation phase which lasts for three months and consists of advanced weapons training, parachute training, basic elements of maritime warfare, operation of small vessels, long swims, forced marches, and demolitions.
Then they advance to four weeks of intense training in combat diving. Cadets learn the basics and how to cope with situations such as cold, darkness, clouded water, and survival in high-risk underwater situations.
Finally the Dedicated phase. This most rigorous stage of training lasts about a year, and most recruits drop out during this phase.
Shayetet 13 has played a major role in almost all of Israel's wars and confrontations since its establishment. Most of Shayetet 13's missions are classified. However, some known or suspected activities of the unit have been revealed by other means.
The unit infiltrated Egypt’s ports on numerous raids during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. During one such raid, Operators from Shayetet 13 infiltrated the Hurghada port and sank a torpedo boat, a coast guard boat, a tank landing craft, a missile boat and blew up the port's main docking pier.
In 2002 the unit captured a Palestinian Authority-owned freighter loaded with 50 tons of weapons. The weapons were intended to be used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians. The operation, code-named Noah’s Ark, took place between the coasts of Saudi Arabia and Sudan over 500 kilometres from Israel. Backed by combat helicopters and aircraft, s13 operators surprised the ship's crew and took over the vessel without firing a single shot. The mission was considered a major success.
Today, Shayetet 13 protects Israel's maritime borders and carries out highly classified and extremely high risk missions throughout the middle east in order to keep Israel and its citizens safe. Any place any time anywhere, Shayetet 13 will get the job done.