OUTGOING MEITAR commander Capt. Ohad Bilu.
(photo credit: IDF)
On several occasions in recent years, cross-border fire from Syria has spilled into Israel, either deliberately or accidentally, and in some cases, the IDF made the decision to fire back.
When that happens, chances are good that the Artillery Corps Meitar [String] unit, which operates the precision-guided Tamuz surface to surface missile, will be called upon to act.
Capt. Ohad Bilu, the outgoing commander of a Meitar company, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday of his unit’s central role in maintaining a delicate balance in the chaotic Syrian border region.
“The company’s role on the Syrian border is central,” he said. Although it is a primary response mechanism used by Israel to strike Syrian military and terrorist targets when Israel is hit by cross-border fire, the unit’s capabilities are so precise that they can be used to lower regional tensions, rather than raise them.
“We carry out the missions the IDF demands of us, and we safeguard the current status quo as much as we can. We have no intention of setting the sector alight,” Bilu said. “At the same time, we know exactly how to reply when we want to, with minimal harm to non-combatants. We can hit exactly what we want to hit, without damaging the surrounding environment. In that area, which is so sensitive, this is important.”
“We have proven this more than a few times,” he said.
The officer paid tribute to Rafael-produced Tamuz missile, known internationally as the Spike non line of sight missile, and the “high professionalism employed by the soldiers who operate it.”
“Our unit specializes in operating this precision-guided weapon. We’re using a missile with very high and accurate strike capabilities. It’s relevant for every existing sector. One of our abilities lies in hitting targets that are out of line of sight,” said the officer.
During the summer war with Hamas, the Meitar battalion was deployed to the Gazan border, and split up between its northern and southern sectors.
“Our company took up positions on the southern sector, firing missiles. In fact, we were the first to arrive in the area, and one of the last to leave,” Bilu recalled.
Some members of the company entered the Gaza Strip, and others remained stationed on the border, striking terrorist targets from a distance.
“Because of our capabilities, we did not all have to enter Gaza to operate in it. We were active there for 45 days, taking part in support missions for ground forces for two weeks [during the ground offensive to destroy tunnels], and striking targets for the remainder of the operation.”
“Every time we heard that a brigade or battalion entered, for example, when the Golani Brigade entered the Gazan district of Shejaia [and came under intense enemy fire], you can be sure that if it received support, we took part,” Bilu added.
A week ago, the officer completed his duties as company commander, and is now set to join the IDF’s Tamuz missile training school, which trains members of the unit.
“Now, I’ll be the one who passes on this operational information to the best of officers and soldiers. This is an amazing production line; It’s one school for one unit, which is different from how the rest of the IDF trains. Because we are small, everyone knows each other, and there are good interpersonal connections, as well as good links, naturally, between the school and the unit,” Bilu said.