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55th Brigade - T'zanhanim (Paratroopers) Infantry Brigade

The IDF Paratroopers have earned a hard-won reputation for strict discipline, courage, initiative, dedication to duty and the highest standards of performance. They have consistently been at the forefront of the IDF and have set behavioral and operational norms for others to emulate.

Infantry, and Paratroopers in particular, provide flexibility and maneuverability to the modern battlefield. They are capable of operating under any field and weather conditions, day or night, combining rapid movement and firepower.

IDF Paratroopers are trained to overcome obstacles and minefields, to fight alone, or jointly with other forces and services in integrated combat. They can be transported by helicopter or dropped behind enemy lines, or be landed from amphibious landing craft. They can fight mounted on jeeps, or on APC's and can operate against armor, attack helicopters and infantry. IDF Paratroopers are a major component in maintaining Israel's security, and have played important roles in special and regular operations in Israel's war against terrorism.

The Paratroop Brigade (commanded by a colonel) is one of the four regular brigades of the Infantry and Paratroop Corps (which is headed by a brigadier general). The Brigade is composed of infantry battalions, as well as reconnaissance, engineering, signals and anti-tank companies. The Infantry and Paratroop Corps is responsible for training and coordinating infantry operations with other forces. The corps is overseen by the Ground Corps Command which is responsible for unifying and streamlining infantry, armor, artillery and engineering forces, training doctrine matters, planning and R&D.

The history of this elite unit is replete with operations which have made front-page headlines over the world. In June 1948 the IDF formed its Paratroopers airborne unit - the T'zanhanim Company. The T'zanhanim Company was designed as an elite infantry unit tasked with the most demanding missions.

The daring reprisal raids of the 50's, the Mitla Pass jump and battles of the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the Conquest of Rafah and the historic unification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War made this unit legendary. On June 7, 1967, Israeli paratroopers dashed down the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was the third day of the Six-Day War. Jerusalem had been until then a divided city, with Jordan in control of the eastern half, including the Old City, and Israel in control of the western half. This had been the status quo for nearly twenty years. The 55th Parachute Brigade changed that. Moshe Dayan, the Defense Minister, had ordered General Uzi Narkiss to surround the Old City but not to enter it. Dayan was worried not only about heavy casualties but also about the political consequences of seizing the Temple Mount. The rest of the Israeli Cabinet overruled him, however, and ordered the retaking of the Old City.

In addition, the airlifting of a Soviet radar station out of Egypt in 1969, the 1972 rescue, the 1973 commando raid against terrorist headquarters in the heart of Beirut, the bridgehead over the Suez and the bloody battle of the Chinese Farm during the Yom Kippur War, the unprecedented rescue of the passengers and crew of the hijacked Air France Airbus in "Operation Jonathan" at Entebbe... These are just a few of the operations which have made this unit legendary.

Paratroop officers and enlisted men have indeed become legends in their time. Many have acceded to the highest-level military positions and have gone on to make distinguished contributions to Israeli political life.

Today, the Paratroopers Brigade is involved in regular security activity at the border lines, and is subordinate to the Central Command.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:51:11 ZULU