Richard Melson

February 2006

MAGAV Israel

Military (IDF) Units:

Land Force

Infantry Corps




PALSAR T'zanhanim

Armored Corps




Combat Engineering Corps

Sayeret Yael



Field Intelligence Corps




Special Mission Units:

Sayeret Egoz

Sayeret Duvdevan



Force 100



Urban Tactical Unit (YATA)

General Staff Security Unit

Sayeret MATKAL

Air Force:

Sayeret Shaldag

Airborne Rescue & Evacuation Unit (Unit 669)

Airplanes Security Unit


Naval Force:

Shayetet 13



Disbanded Units:

Sayeret Haruv

Sayeret Rimon


Civilian (LE) Units:

Israeli Police



Public Transportation (Yoav, Horev and Nit'zan)

Israeli Prison Service (IPS/SHABAS):




Israeli Border Guard (MAGAV):






Israeli border policeman.

MAGAV shoulder patch

MAGAV is the combat arm of the Israeli Police.

MAGAV troops are trained by the IDF in high infantry level but serve under the police.

They are deployed in the disputed territories, in the countryside and on Israel's borders.

MAGAV has four SF units:

YAMAM (Counter Terror and Hostage Rescue unit),

YAMAS (Counter Terror undercover unit),

YAMAG (Tactical Counter Crime and Counter Terror rapid deployment unit) and

MATILAN (Intelligence gathering and infiltrations interception unit).

Israel Border Police

The Israel Border Police (Mishmar HaGvul) is the combat branch of the Israeli Police.

It is also commonly known by its Hebrew abbreviation Magav, meaning: border guard.


The Border Police was founded as the Frontier Corps, a gendarmerie under the IDF in 1949 with the task of providing security in rural areas and along the borders. In the course of the following years, it was gradually transferred to the command of the Police and became the Border Police. During these years, it secured new settlements and countered infiltration of Palestinians, especially from Egypt and Jordan.

During the 1956 Suez War, the Border Police was involved in the Kafr Qasim massacre. On the second day of the war, a curfew was imposed on the Israeli Arab village. Villagers who had worked in the village fields and had not been informed about the curfew were shot as they returned to the village, resulting in 49 dead. The massacre raised a strong protest in the Israeli public and resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the obligation of soldiers to disobey manifestly illegal orders.

During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Border Police took part in the fighting alongside the IDF. Following the war, it was deployed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and charged with maintaining law and order as part of the military administration. Since then, a significant portion of the Border Police's activity has been in these territories, especially during the years of the Intifada.

In 1974, the counter-terror unit YAMAM is established.

In October Riots the Border Police used as the main branch of the treatment in the events.

During al-Aqsa Intifada the Border Police took a large part in the security activity.

In 2005 the Border Police participated in the implementation of the disengagement plan.


The Border Police is composed of professional officers on payroll and field policemen redirected from the IDF (men at the age of 18 can choose to serve in the Border Police instead of the IDF, serving 3 years as a border policeman is equal to 3 years as an IDF soldier). All border policemen receive combat training and in addition are also trained for CT (counter-terrorism), riot control and policework. Excellent policemen can specialize in some profession and receive special training to become snipers, buggie-drivers, dog operators, bomb squad etc.

Because of their combat training, border policemen are employed in unquiet areas, where there are greater risks for riots, violence and even terror. They serve mainly at the countryside, at Arab villages and towns (along with the regular police), near the borders and at the West Bank.

The Border Police is also responsible for security of rural settlements inside Israel with its Rural Police ( shitur kafri) units and community security coordinators ( rabash).

Rural policemen are full time professional officers and security coordinators are a mixture of full time and volunteer officers.

The Border Police has four SF units:


(Counter-Terror and Hostage Rescue unit),


(Counter-Terror Undercover Unit),


(Tactical Counter-Crime and Counter-Terror Rapid Deployment Unit) and


(Intelligence Gathering and Infiltrations Interception Unit).

The Border Police has an excellent record of thwarting terrorist attacks. One of the most famous incidents is the capture of a car bomb, containing more than 500 kg of explosives, near Wadi Arra.

The YAMAM record includes the capture of a terrorist group hidden in the Arab town of Taibe, the rescue of Eliyaho Goral, the killing of Hamas head in Hebron, Abbedullah Qawasameh and the foiling of an massacre attempt in Yokne'am school by Palestinian terrorists.

Border Police's undercover units have been repeatedly accused by both Israeli, Palestinian and international human right groups of extra-judicial killing of Palestinians which Israel considers "wanted"; there is convincing evidence that such persons are often summarilly executed by Israeli undercover squads without any attempt to capture and trial them.

Recently, undercover units have also been used as agents provocateurs, embedded in peaceful demonstrations against Israel's illegal Separation Wall built in the occupied West Bank and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers in order to justify violence against the demonstrators; sofar, official Israel admits the presence of undercover agents among demonstrators and even the fact that they participate in stone throwing, but claims this follows rather than precedes stone throwing by the demonstrators themselves.

Israel Special Forces: MAGAV

February 26, 2006