Skip to content skip to sidebar Skip to footer
Screen capture from a report by Hadashot News on the captive training program for elite Israeli army units, December 15, 2017. (Hadashot News screenshot)

Soldiers from most of the army's elite units spend two weeks training aimed at preparing commandos for the possibility of being captured and imprisoned

Israeli soldiers who fall into enemy hands can undoubtedly expect a very bad time while in captivity. Intimidation, humiliation and torture are likely scenarios in captivity.

These are also things they can experience from their own army, as part of a top-secret IDF training program that aims to prepare its elite commandos for the possibility of to be captured or imprisoned.

Details of the program were revealed on Friday by Hadashot who spoke to several soldiers who have endured these difficult ordeals.

The two-week training takes place at the end of training programs for some of the army's elite units: the navy commandos, Sayeret Matkal (the army's Reconnaissance unit) and Shaldag ( the air force's elite commando unit). The pilots also undergo this training.

The soldiers are held in prison-like conditions, facing intense interrogations, threats and outright violence from their instructors. Soldiers described a stressful experience in which they often believed their instructors had completely lost control.

Gilad Shalit, Israeli army soldier captured by Hamas, in a video released during his captivity. (Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In preparation for the program, the soldiers watch information films and are told that they should expect difficult days ahead. They also meet people who have experienced captivity.

The next step is the "kidnapping" of young soldiers which usually takes place at night, Z, a former soldier, told the TV station. The goal is to shock the soldiers from the start. Soldiers who have undergone the program speak of physically and emotionally intense ordeals, during which they are interrogated, slapped, whipped and subjected to degrading activities.

"I started crying, but it didn't help me," one soldier told Hadashot. When I made them angry, they pushed me against a wall and whipped my back. If you show them it hurts, they hit you harder. At some point, we understand that we should close it.

Israeli army operation in the West Bank, September 28, 2017. (Israeli army)

The instructors tried to get information that the soldiers know they shouldn't divulge.

“An interrogator stood in front of me and said, 'I know who you are. I know what you're up to. Your friends have already told me everything, said a former soldier. They tied my hands on a table. One interrogator held me down while the other whipped my feet”.

The instructors played Arabic music for the soldiers and forced them to dance until they fell.

“There were times when I started crying and said, 'Enough! Stop! I can't take it anymore, remembered a soldier. My legs can't take it anymore, I can't dance anymore. I don't think I've been through anything that hard in my entire life."

To ensure that the experience is not too traumatic, a psychologist accompanies the soldiers throughout the program.

"Training to be a prisoner prepares the soldier for the possibility of failure," said Lt. Col. Yotam Dagan, a former army psychologist. It's a totally different challenge than what the soldier is trained for up to this point”. The soldier, he said, must deal with a situation "where the cards are not in his favor, in which he must survive, function and most of all, come home alive".

Dagan said while soldiers can sometimes feel like the simulation is getting out of hand, that's also part of the program's purpose.

“Sometimes there are situations that are perceived as a loss of control [on the part of the instructors]. It's done on purpose to make it difficult enough, to be a real challenge,” he said.

“At the end of the program, the soldier should feel like he has learned something about how to handle such a situation. If that doesn't happen, he'll feel like he should never be captured."

At the end of the program, some of the soldiers start crying, they are so relieved to know that it is over.

"Nobody knows what's going on, and then you hear the plastic ties being cut from your hands and you hear the unit commander has arrived," said one of the soldiers.

While happy to know it's over, the soldiers understand that the next time they find themselves in such a situation, it will most likely be outside Israel's borders. Yet, having undergone rigorous training, they will be all the more prepared for such a scenario.

Source: © How the Israeli army prepares its soldiers for captivity

Leave a comment

CJFAI © 2023. All Rights Reserved.