“Victory at war comes not from
the number of soldiers.”
— Maccabees I, iii 19
The Golani brigade was
formed on February 22, 1948, when the Levanoni
brigade deployed on Israel's Lebanese border
was divided into two smaller brigades. Golani
was stationed in the valleys and hills of
the Lower Galilee in northern Israel. Its
soldiers included members of the Haganah,
residents of settlements in the areas of
combat, and enlisted men from all over
Prior to Israel's Declaration
of Independence, the soldiers of the brigade
fought in the areas of Mishmar Ha'emek, Tiberias,
Migdal, Zemach and Rosh Pinna. Their mission
was to defend the Upper Galilee and the Galilee
valleys. They also participated in the victory
at Safed in Operation
Yiftach. They captured
Arab Sejera, and Bet Shean and its environs.
The War of Independence
Upon the official proclamation on the founding of
Israel, seven Arab national armies invaded the country.
In the north, this included the Syrian, Iraqi, and Lebanese armies as well as the Kaukji
The Golani brigade was deployed
to face this threat, although it had severely
depleted ranks and was short of arms. New
arrivals to the State
of Israel were thrown
into the fray and many immediately joined the Golani brigade.
The new refugee recruits, though fiercely
loyal to the country and proud of their Judaism,
were reluctant soldiers. There were economic
and social problems 'at home' in the transit
immigrant camps. The standard of army equipment
was poor. The available weapons were Czech
rifles, with a builtin magazine that
held only five rounds, and Sten machine guns,
which were originally designed as cheap throwaways
for British paratroopers to use until their
'real' weapons were dropped. As for transport,
each battalion had one station wagon, a tender
van, and a single truck. One company had
their leave stopped by their commander because
they dared respond to the battalion CO's
interest in their problems by showing him
boots that were tied with string to stop
the soles from dropping off.
Golani Brigade succeeded in bringing the
Syrian columns of armor and infantry to a
halt, sometimes through the use of Molotov
cocktails and facetoface combat.
Iraqi forces were halted in the Jordan Valley.
The guerilla, improvisational tactics that
prevailed in the preState era were grafted
with the Brigade commander's experience in
the British Army to set the tone of Golani
The Golani brigade took
part along with the Seventh armored infantry
brigade, and the Carmeli brigade in Operation
Dekel (in the Galilee). In this operation,
the forces involved captured the Nazareth
area from Kaukji's irregulars. Golani troops,
now incorporated into the newlyformed Israel
Defense Forces participated in activities
to gain control over the entire Galilee in
what was called Operation Hiram. This involved
counterthrusts that penetrated as deep
as the Litani River in Lebanon.
The Golani brigade also
took part in Operation
Assaf to take control
of the western Negev, and also participated
in Operation Horev in which the Egyptians
were repelled from Israeli territory. Golani's
final mission in the War
of Independence was the successful seizure of the Negev in
Operation Ovdah. Golani participated in the
capture of the Southern Negev, all the way
down to the Red Sea at Eilat.
After the war, a large
number of new immigrants were absorbed into
the brigade, some of whom could not speak
Hebrew. The newlyreorganized brigade
went into action against the Syrians in 1951,
after the Syrians gained control of TelMutila
in the north. The Golani force involved suffered
The next time Golani went
into action was in October 1955 in coordination
with the Paratrooper Brigade. Their mission
was a retaliatory raid across the border
from Nitzana, following recurrent Egyptian
One month later, they carried
out an outstanding joint operation with the
Paratroopers against outposts which threatened
the Sea of Galilee region.
The 1956 Sinai Campaign
Israel undertook the 1956
Sinai Campaign in response to developments
in the international arena. Golani's mission
was to capture the Rafah area, in order to
provide Israeli armored forces with a clear
road into Egyptian territory.
Golani's next major activity
was in 1960. Following continued Syrian harassment
of farmers in the demilitarized zone in northern
Israel, a Golani force attacked a Syrian
outpost at Tawfiq. Two years later, they
carried out another attack against the Nukeib
outpost in Syria.
From 1965, the brigade
was integrated into ongoing antiterrorist
operations including Shune and Kilat in Jordan,
and Hilweh in Lebanon.
The 1967 Six Day War
In the Six
Day War, Golani
troops fought in the Jordan/Syria sector.
In Nablus they took part in housetohouse
fighting, while on the Golan
brigade was involved in heroic battles at
Tel Azizyat and Tel Fahr [see below.] Elsewhere,
Golani troops supported armored forces as
in the capture of Zaurah and the Banias.
Elements of Golani's Gideon Battalion landed
by helicopter on Mt. Hermon.
Golani was now given a
new role. The brigade began to reinforce
outposts along the Suez Canal, patrolling
the length of the new border, and pursuing
terrorists into South Lebanon.
The 1973 Yom Kippur
Just before hostilities
broke out, Golani troops were sent to man
outposts in the northern sector of the Golan
Heights. When war broke out, these outposts
came under attack from Syrian infantry and
armor, and were subject to air strikes. Golani
troops blocked possible transportation routes
available to the Syrians, and then went on
to take part in joint operations with IDF
armored forces. After regaining territories
up to the ceasefire line ("the
purple line"), Golani joined Rafael
Eitan's division in its thrust into the Syrian
During the early stages
of the war, the Mt. Hermon outpost, known
in Israel as "the eyes of the State," was
captured by the Syrians. Due to the strategic
importance of the outpost, high priority
was placed on its recapture. Golani troops
successfully undertook this difficult mission
on 22 October. They suffered high casualties
in this battle.
Golani at Entebbe
For years Golani was upstaged
by the more glamorous, red bereted paratroopers.
The Golani brown berets received recognition
as an elite force in the 1976 Entebbe Operation.
Golani units participated in the spectacular
rescue of Israeli nationals after their plane
had been hijacked to Uganda. This was not
a prize for past achievement but simply acceptance
that only the best would go on this mission,
and Golani were the best.
In 1978, following the
terrorist attack on the HaifaTel Aviv
highway, the IDF launched Operation Litani.
The objective of the mission was to repel
terrorist organizations beyond the Litani
river in Lebanon. It was an interarm
action, in which a major component were the
ground forces. The operation enjoyed only
limited success, as the terrorist threat
was not completely removed.
Continued problems with
terrorist incursions from the northern border
led to Operation Peace for Galilee (later
known as the Lebanon War). The Golani brigade
fought on the Nabatiye Heights and in Kfar
Sil, but the battle for which Golani became
famous in Lebanon was the capture of the
Beaufort outpost a military fort dating
back to the crusader period (12th century),
that was used as a terrorist base.
Since the Lebanon War,
Golani has continued to be a volunteer elite
infantry force. They share the humdrum work
of patrolling Israel's borders and facing
the dangers of Lebanon together with the
Paratroopers and other volunteer units.
The Battle of Tel Fahr
The Golani brigade was
deployed along Israel's northern borders.
In the period prior to the Six
Day War the
Syrians built a complex system of outposts
and fortifications facing the Syrians. Two
positions, Tel Azizyat and Tel Fahr were
part of this system. Tel Azizyat was taken
by a flanking maneuver.
On 9th June, 1967 at 14:00
hours, at the same time as armored and infantry
forces crossed over the "green line" (1948
ceasefire lines) a Golani's Barak battalion
made their way by mechanized transport to
Tel Fahr. The battle plan was to outflank
Tel Fahr but the designated approach proved
to be inaccessible to the force's vehicles.
A new plan was therefore decided upon which
required a frontal assault.
Throughout the force's
approach, it suffered attacks from outposts
around the route. Upon the forces' arrival
at the BourjBabil Tel Fahr junction
at 14:30, the battalion commander decided
to assign part of his force to attacking
the BourjBabil outpost, which was firing
heavily upon the battalion, and preventing
it from carrying out its attack effectively.
Despite this, the force pressed forward,
abandoning damaged and destroyed vehicles
along the way.
Upon reaching the foot
of the hill on which the outpost was located,
the force left its vehicles to approach the
outpost on foot. The force was divided into
two groups, with each group attacking one
of the two peaks on which the outpost was
situated. Upon reaching the outer perimeter
of the fortifications some soldiers flattened
the barbed wire coils by lying down on the
wire, thus allowing their colleagues to step
on them and proceed into the fort.
The combat then moved to
the trenches, where fighting was at shortrange,
with very high casualties. Many soldiers,
including the battalion commander, were hit
by Syrian fire.
Six hours after crossing
the border, a mechanized force in tracked
vehicles arrived at the southern side of
the outpost, and a reconnaissance group under
the command of the brigade commander arrived
at the northern side along with the group
assigned to capture BourjBabil. Within
another half an hour, Golani troops had gained
control of Tel Fahr. Thirty-four soldiers
fell in the battle: of these were 23 enlisted
men and officers of the Barak Battalion.
Battalions of the Golani
Barak Battalion: The Barak Battalion is one of the two original battalions of the Brigade. When the historical '4th Plan' was put into effect, the battalion oversaw the protection of the Sea of Galilee district. The battalion is named after a Biblical general and judge of the nation of Israel - Barak. Among many famous battles of the battalion: Ein Gev, Gesher, Sajra, the capture of the Tzemach structure, and the skirmish in Tiberius during the War
of Independence. In addition, one of their more famous battles is the battle of Tel Fahr in the Golan Heights, in the Six Day War. The battalion is also famous for the 'Blue Brown' operation of 1988, and many other campaigns.
Gideon Battalion: The Gideon Battalion is also one of the original battalions of the brigade. It has taken charge of the Gilboa region since its founding. It takes its name from the Biblical General and Judge of the Nation of Israel - Gideon. Among the many famous battles in which the Battalion took part: the battle for Jenin , the 'Asaf' operation during the War of Independence, the capture of the Banias structures during the Six Day War, and the battle of position 107 in the Yom Kippur War.
The "First Breaches" Battalion: This battalion was the first Givati Brigade battalion; it joined the Golani Brigade in 1956. The name of the Brigade was derived from the 'Yoav' operation of 1948. Its purpose was to weaken the fortifications of the Negev, provide a path for the rest of the Israeli forces, and to break the Egyptian army. The battalion took the first steps toward blazing a path for the rest of the forces, and was therefore called 'The First Breaches' battalion. Among its famous battles is the conquest of Rafah during the Sinai Campaign, the capture of Tel Azazit during the Six Day War, and the taking back of the Hermon during the Yom Kippur War.
The 'Egoz' Special Forces Unit: (Guerrilla and Urban Warfare Unit) The initial purpose of the unit, which was originally founded in 1956, was to execute missions far behind enemy lines. Later, the unit was disassembled and re-established a number of times. Since August of 1995 the unit started taking enlistees from the Golani Brigade who had passed a rigorous selection and evaluation regimen. Their training includes navigation, snow training, anti-terror training, a parachuting course, and more. After this process comes to a close, the soldiers execute ambushes and special missions deep into Lebanese territory. The unit specializes in guerrilla warfare, studying rough terrain warfare, scouting, camouflage, and ambush strategies. The unit received citations from the Chief of General Staff.
The Golani Reconnaissance Unit: The soldiers of this elite unit undergo thorough and demanding training. They have an extremely high level of physical and combat competence, which allows them to embark on varying missions beyond the border and in the region of the Green Line. The warriors have twice the reason to be proud of where they serve - they are the elite of the brown berets, the Golani soldiers.
Even during the days when the state was still in its infancy, Rafi Kotser commanded a special division of elite soldiers (the 'commando' division) in the 'Barak' Battalion, and the story of the elite unit does not stray too far from that of the entire Brigade. The elite unit was generally deployed only when the commander of the brigade gave the order. When they were put into action they would undertake such missions as special general defense missions, infiltrations, capture, reconnaissance missions, and confrontations with terrorists. They were also used many a time as the spearhead of major operations, and significant battles. Among them were the battle of Nokiev, Tel Fahr, Beaufort, and others.
The Special Communications Unit: The soldiers of the communications unit undergo the routine training of all Golani soldiers and take an instructional communications course for an additional three months. Upon returning to the brigade, each soldier practices his specialization, given to him during the course. These include: Wireless Equipment Operator, Communications Technician, Code Breaking, etc. In addition to their specialization training, the communications soldiers participate in arduous treks and infantry training exercises with all of their equipment on their backs.
The Combat Engineering Unit: The soldiers of the unit must undergo different sorts of training, including detonation, engineering, mines, and tunnel-making. In wartime, the engineering unit is designated to lead the forces of the Brigade, neutralizing mine fields, creating new pathways, capturing bridgeheads, and more. The soldiers of the unit carry heavy mines on their backs, in addition to heavy engineering and other equipment. This requires them to be physically able and in constant shape.
The 'Orev' Anti-Tank Unit: The main characteristic which sets this unit apart from the rest is its unique anti-tank and anti-armor capabilities. They carry anti-tank missiles on their backs, taking charge of the specialized gear dedicated to the entire division. They use the TAW missile, known in the IDF as the Orev missile. Due to the heaviness of the equipment they carry, they are constantly demanded to be in prime physical condition.
Source: Israel Defense Forces