IDF’s Yahalom unit grows in size to deal with increased tunnel threat

IDF expanding elite unit as a response to lessons learned from last summer's war.

IDF holds surprise drill near Gaza (photo credit: IDF)
IDF holds surprise drill near Gaza
(photo credit: IDF)
The Yahalom elite Combat Engineering Corps unit is growing as part of the IDF’s preparations for tunnel threats, the army said on Sunday, adding that the change is a result of lessons learned from last summer’s 50-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
The unit’s various companies and training school will expand significantly, the IDF stated, and the unit’s next commander will be a colonel.
The unit’s current commander, who cannot be named, is a lieutenant-colonel.
One of the Yahalom unit’s five companies, known by its Hebrew acronym, Samur, and designed for tunnel warfare, will be three times larger than its current size.
Maj. A. (full name withheld), the commander of the unit’s training center, said the center, too, will grow, and that his successor will be of the higher rank of lieutenant colonel.
“Under his command, three majors will serve, overseeing various areas of the school,” Maj. A. said. “The coming years will be complex, in terms of preparing for the unit’s growth.”
The Samur company specializes in destroying weapons hideouts and tunnels. It recently held a training exercise, together with Yahalom’s bomb squad company, at the Elyakim combat training base in northern Israel. The units practiced combat in a hostile village on the other side of a northern border.
“We are preparing for future threats that we understand we will meet,” said Maj. A.
Yahalom is expected to receive new weapons to help it carry out its missions. Some of these weapons will soon appear in training courses, Maj. A. said.
In recent days, Yahalom’s newest members completed their combat training and attended a ceremony at Mount Gilboa in the North.
Yahalom commander Lt.- Col. Y. said, “I expect combat soldiers to act as their fellow soldiers did in the Gaza Strip a number of months ago. The lengthy professional process they underwent in the unit will enable them to fully deal with the operational challenges that exist in various sectors.”