Shayetet 13, also known as S-13 or “the people of silence,” is an Israeli marine commando unit of the Israel Navy operating in the sea, on land, and in the air.

The unit is one of the most secretive in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Its members and the details of many of its operations remain a secret. Their mission set is similar to the U.S.’s Navy SEALs’ and the U.K.’s Special Boat Service’s (SBS)

Shayetet 13 is considered one of the best trained Special Operations units in the world. It was formed in 1949 and has steadily grown in size and evolved over the years. 

Service in the unit combines long and comprehensive infantry training with specialization in maritime warfare, diving, and the operation of special vessels. While conscription service in Israeli Special Forces units requires a 36-month term of service, Shayetet 13 members require an additional 18 months. 

Shayetet 13 batwings insignia
Shayetet 13 insignia. The “batwings” are earned at the completion of training.

The unit’s motto is, “As the bat emerges from the darkness, As the blade cuts through with silence, as the grenade smashes in rage.” 

The unit has won the Israeli Chief of Staff’s award several times for its contribution to fighting terrorism, developing innovative operational capabilities, instilling high norms of behavior of excellence, and striving for victory.

Shayetet 13 combat teams are required to acquire a variety of skills to carry out their missions. Among other things, the fighters specialize in infantry fighting, counter-terrorism, guerrilla warfare, operational parachuting, and naval assault methods.