Today, SOFREP’s Pic of the Day features members of the IDF 35th Paratroopers Brigade having an improvised ceremony of some sort in the ruins of Gaza.
What is the 35th Paratroopers Brigade?
The 35th “Paratroopers” Brigade, known in Hebrew as Hativat HaTzanhanim, is a renowned Israel Defence Forces (IDF) unit comprising airborne infantry. Established in the mid-1950s, it represents a significant part of the IDF’s Infantry Corps and is known for its involvement in special operations dating back to the 1950s. Members of this brigade are recognizable by their maroon berets, russet boots, and distinctive uniforms featuring a tunic and belt over their shirts.
The brigade’s inception traces back to 1949 when Chaim Laskov, prompted by Machalnik Captain Tom Derek Bowden, established a paratroop school using British Army surplus equipment. Bowden played a pivotal role in setting up the brigade, including writing a training manual. The brigade was officially formed through the merging of the commando Unit 101 and the 890th Battalion, an elite infantry formation. Initially, the brigade’s primary weapon was the IMI Uzi submachine gun, suitable for recon and commando operations due to its lightness and compact size.
Ariel Sharon Was Their First Commander
Ariel Sharon, a notable Israeli military and political figure, was the first commander of the Paratroopers Brigade. The brigade’s operational history is marked by its only combat parachute drop during the 1956 Sinai War and its critical role in capturing Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, a momentous event in Israeli history. Over the years, the brigade has been a breeding ground for future Israeli military leaders, including several Chiefs of Staff like Shaul Mofaz, Moshe Ya’alon, Benny Gantz, and Aviv Kochavi.
The selection and training for the Paratroopers Brigade are rigorous. Candidates undergo a demanding two-day selection process assessing their physical fitness, emotional readiness, leadership qualities, and teamwork skills. Despite a high dropout rate, the year-long training program is comprehensive. It covers a wide range of military skills and tactics, culminating in an 80-kilometer “Beret March” marking their induction into the IDF.
In terms of combat history, the Paratroopers Brigade played a significant role in various conflicts and operations. They were instrumental in the Reprisal operations of the 1950s, which included raids into Arab territory in response to fedayeen attacks. Notable operations included attacks on Egyptian positions in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, as well as on Syrian gun emplacements.