The Israel Defense Forces press service revealed some details about the participation of the “Refaim” (Hebrew: “Ghosts”) unit in the operation “Guardian of the Walls” and combat operations against Hizbullah.
The “Refaim” unit is a top battalion-level unit of the Israel Defense Forces, part of the 99th maneuvering infantry division, “Evzek.” The unit was established about a year and a half ago, following an initiative by the Chief of the Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, as part of the IDF’s five-year strategic development plan, “Tnufa” (Hebrew for “Breakaway”).
The “Refaim” unit’s mission is to locate, detect and destroy the “hidden” enemy. The unit uses a variety of special equipment and innovative combat concepts, and operates the entire range of intelligence and weapons available to the Israeli army. In fact, the unit, which is also called “Multidimensional”, encompasses the concept of “Multi-Domain Operations” (MDO) and is a maneuverable multi-task force, operating in various war scenarios, on different positions and different operational environments.
The unit is designed to perform covert combat operations using camouflage and ground disguises, which includes sudden and unexpected operations — that`s why it is called “Ghosts”.
This elite fighting force was originally part of the 98th Reserve Airborne Division, a special unit of the Israeli army which consisted of paratroopers and special forces brigades. In war conditions this division was designed to carry out so-called “air-assault operations,” which means parachuting or dropping from helicopters deep behind enemy lines and then taking over enemy territory or carrying out other maneuvers.
However, later, the “Refaim” special unit was reassigned to the new 99th Division “Evzek,” established about a year ago. This division is similarly a special elite unit and is also composed of reservists airborne and special forces brigades, as well as top infantry and armored units. The “Evzek” Division is specifically purposed for rapid border crossing and deep area infiltration, with the use of UAVs, multicopters, electronic and cyber warfare, as well as other special capabilities.
The assignment of the “Refaim” unit, first to the 98th and then to the 99th Divisions, indicates many details about the missions it is supposed to carry out. These are operations deep behind enemy lines (after being delivered by air or land), with the aim of detecting and identifying hidden enemy units there, and then using various precise and long-range weapons to eliminate the enemies.
The “Refaim” unit is formed from a selected group of fighters who specialize in a variety of military fields: intelligence officers, telecommunications corps (“Tikshuv”), air force specialists (including pilots), engineering specialists from the elite “Yaalom” unit, as well as fighters who specialize in advanced anti-tank weapons, robots with bomb disposal and offensive capabilities, UAVs, covert reconnaissance and cyber warfare.
Studying innovative warfare tools and doctrines for implementation in the Army
As you have realized by now, the "Refaim" unit is no ordinary unit. But its unusualness is not only due to the fact that it employs special means and is staffed with selected fighters, but also because it is a kind of "new technology laboratory" for the entire Israel Defense Forces.
In essence the "Refaim" unit is experiencing a field training on the latest means of reconnaissance, communication and information systems as well as combat theories, some of which are being developed by the unit members themselves. All this is being made with the aim of creating a future generation of similar units with the potential for significant improvements in the military capabilities, from the divisional to regional levels, while searching for hidden enemy formations, including terrorists hiding among the civilian population, finding them as quickly as possible and identifying them more effectively.
Covert operations against Hamas and Hizbullah
The IDF press office allowed to be published earlier this week information that this experimental unit has in fact already begun operating in the field, and with the help of the Almighty, it is having a great success.
As it turned out, the “Refaim” unit (its army number is 888) had already been deployed against Hizbullah last year, when the terrorist group tried to take revenge for the elimination of its fighter in an attack that was attributed to the Israeli air force.
Our forces on the Lebanese border were ordered to reduce their presence near the border fence, and the entire 91st Territorial Division “a-Galil” went on high alert expecting a clash with Hizbullah. The army deployed special units in the border area trying to locate Hizbullah fighters hiding in dense vegetation on the Lebanese side, but these efforts were rather unsuccessful.
The commander of the “Refaim” unit offered to deploy his fighters to the border to use the new options they were working on and developing to detect terrorists successfully hiding across the difficult border pattern, which included hills, canyons, and dense vegetation. Permission was granted, and the “Refaim” dispersed along the Lebanese border.
The unit’s fighters, well camouflaged in the terrain, searched for Hizbullah groups and pinpointed their positions using the full range of reconnaissance assets at their disposal, including unique multicopter gunships and sensors and precision-analysis tools.
The results were immediate. Soon Hizbullah’s anti-tank squads were spotted, as well as their camera crews ( which filmed the shooting of the Israeli army’s vehicles). Despite the fact that the militant groups were well trained and familiar with the border area where they were hiding, their location was discovered rather quickly.
The alert level was subsequently reduced and the unit was moved to perform special operations in the Golan Heights, where it continued to develop its skills and capabilities, which included working with the Israel Defense Forces’ satellite reconnaissance unit (Unit 9900).
In Operation “Guardian of the Walls”, the Refaim unit was engaged against one of the most powerful Hamas units in the notorious Sajiyah neighborhood of the Gaza Strip. The unit managed to detect a remarkable number of fighters — about 20 assault and antitank units — effectively disrupting Hamas’ plans in this sector, which had been trying to conduct sniper and antitank attacks without any success. By the grace and miracles of the Almighty, the activity of the “Refaim” unit in this operation was a tremendous success.
Eliminating Hidden Evil - On the Way to Redemption
The teachings of Chasidism explain that there are two kinds of evil: open (visible) and hidden.
Open evil is easy for us to see, so despite all its " brutality" and tremendous power, it is easier to fight with him, because it is visible and tangible. At the same time, Chasidism teaches us, that the main problem is precisely the evil that is hidden. Although it is hidden and, at first glance, may seem to affect us to a lesser extent, it is because this evil is more internal, it has more inner power, deeper roots, which makes it very difficult to detect and eliminate.
Therefore, as was said by the Alter Rebbe — the founder of Chabad — there is a huge difference between the exile after the destruction of the First Temple, which lasted only 70 years, and the current exile. The first exile, which followed the destruction of the First Temple, was short, because according to the sages of the Talmud, “The people of the First Temple, whose iniquity was revealed, had their end revealed; the latter ones, whose iniquity was not revealed, have their end still unrevealed.” In other words, their sin was “visible,” not hidden. "The ’evil’ they faced was evident, and therefore it was easy to deal with and fix the situation. At the same time, for the latter — which is to say, our generation, those who came after the destruction of the Second Temple — “whose iniquity was not revealed, have their end still unrevealed.” Since here we are confronted with the hidden evil of “unjustified (unreasonable) hatred” and the splitting of hearts.
The evil of “unjustified hatred” is a “hidden” evil because a person tricks himself. He fools himself that as if he has a “reason,” G-d forbid, to hate another. While the truth is that all this hatred is “unjustified,” it has no other reason than the human arrogance.
After all, even if that person believes that his neighbor has harmed him and done him some damage, surely it was by the will of the Almighty, which means that he has no reason to blame his neighbor. He should only carefully analyze his own actions and understand what is the spiritual reason for the harm done to him, may the Almighty have mercy on that person.
The Alter Rebbe continues and adds that in the same way, “cleaning” grain seeds from any small junk takes much more time than from any large and noticeable particles of junk, because it is much easier to find and remove them, while tiny particles mixed with grain seeds are much more difficult to find and remove.
That is why the confrontation of our great father Yaakov with Lavan lasted for a whole 20 years, while his direct confrontation with the evil one Esav lasted for one short meeting. Esav, after all, was an “open evil” who wanted to confront Yaakov directly, so it was much easier to oppose him. But Lavan the Aramean, whose Hebrew word for “Aramean” is ramai (“trickster”), had been countering our forefather Yaakov for 20 years, using various tricks and deceptions typical of the “hidden evil”. That’s why it was much more difficult to defeat him, and it took the whole 20 years.
Thus, in our generation, the essence of the struggle is to confront the hidden evil, which hides and conceals itself, presenting itself as “good. Indeed, we encounter it in almost every sphere of our lives.
For example, the media, which is supposed to be “objective” and has been perceived by many as “balanced” for decades, in fact was and still is extremely biased, imposing a radical agenda on us. However, as we approach Redemption, this becomes more and more evident. Hidden evils are being revealed to us more and more.
It is the same with various politicians and entire parties, the truth about which becomes more and more apparent over time. This is all part of the healthy and positive process of exposing and discovering hidden evil.
A similar process I believe we are facing in the development of military doctrine, where increasing preference is given to uncovering and detecting “hidden” targets, including: terrorists hiding among civilians, rocket launchers hidden among the civilian population — in army jargon they are called “pretended innocents”, terrorist squads and means of fire concealed and disguised by various methods. In other words, almost the main problem of intelligence is to expose the “hidden evil” and destroy it as quickly as possible.
It is no coincidence that the new “Refaim” unit was a response to this very challenge. And it is, as I mentioned above, intended to serve as a model for the creation of many other similar units, as part of the army’s trend in recent years toward an ever-increasing enhancement of intelligence capabilities, allowing us to uncover and catch the “hidden evil” of our enemies. Those who, we should note, have intentionally chosen the tactic of diversions from tunnels, from underground, disguising themselves as civilians, and seeking to hide their evil actions under the cover of their claimed “innocence”. Such as the Iranian nuclear project, which for years has been portrayed by Iran as “civilian,” for “peaceful purposes”.
All the cleansing of hidden evil and its exposure in all areas of our lives, as mentioned above, is part of the Redemption process leading to “And all who do iniquity will blossom to be destroyed forever” (Psalms 92:8) — the hidden evil is revealed (“is blossoming”) to be destroyed, to make our world filled with only goodness — to transform the world into the world of Redemption. In the very near future!