Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Israel Special Forces: Shaldag

Shaldag (שלדג‎; "Kingfisher"), also known as Special Surface-Air Designation Team and Unit 5101, is the elite IDF Air Force commando unit.

The unit is considered one of the primary Special Forces units of the Israel Defense Forces (along with Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet-13). Shaldag was founded in 1974, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, by Muki Betzer, a Sayeret Matkal veteran, who brought several Matkal veterans with him. Initially operating as a Sayeret Matkal reserve company, it was eventually transferred to the IAF.

Shaldag's mission is to deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments to conduct special reconnaissance, establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and commando actions.

Little is known about Shaldag's operations outside of a few famous missions. Shaldag soldiers took part in Operation Moses and Operation Solomon which saw them secure the airlift of thousands of Jews out of Ethiopia to Israel. The 20th chief of staff of the IDF, Benny Gantz, led Operation Solomon and was a former commander with Shaldag.

During the Second Lebanon War, Shaldag took part in Operation Sharp and Smooth in which the unit raided the Hezbollah stronghold in Baalbek, hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, and managed to arrest a number of Hezbollah commanders. Shaldag was also reportedly involved in Operation Orchard in Syria in 2007 when Israeli Air Force jets successfully destoyed a nuclear reactor inside Syria.

Sources: Israel Defense Forces; Wikipedia