Click here to read my interview with the commander of the IDF’s Counter-Terrorism Branch, Maj. Hanan.
Maj. Hanan’s Branch is a part of the wider Counter-Terrorism school. It trains all of the IDF’s special and elite forces, who then go on stand-by shifts in various areas around the country, ready to intervene at a moment’s notice. The Branch’s instructors don’t just train – they also take part in real operations on a regular basis, bringing with them much experience, and ensuring that their techniques and combat doctrines are up to date with developments on the ground.
Maj. Hanan (full name withheld for security reasons) made valuable observations about regional trends, which affect the kind of training his Branch provides.
“Outside of Israel, we see states falling apart, and many terrorist organizations filling up vacuums, which enable them to grow stronger. Some are becoming semi-military,” he said. Such enemies threaten Israel with rockets, missiles and plans to infiltrate Israel, either overground or through tunnels.
The Counter-Terrorism Branch studies incidents such as the July 14 terror attack near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in which a cell of three Arab jihadist gunmen shot dead two Israeli Druze policemen, and looks for lessons. The branch pours over speeches made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which he threatens to “conquer” the Galilee, and draws its conclusions.
“We understand that the enemy will try to enter Israel, and move the fighting into our territory, with large numbers of attackers and weapons. This calls for selective combat, but at a higher level of intensity than we have known,” Hanan said.
“We could find ourselves in an Israeli village near Gaza, engaging a Hamas cell, which is backed by Hamas fighters launching mortars at us. And civilians would be stuck in this,” the branch chief added. “We need to prepare for that, and come up with suitable replies. If this occurs, our objective will be to finish it as quickly as possible, with minimal achievements by the enemy, and maximal achievements by us.”