The recent wave of horrific terror attacks in Europe have emphasized the danger of 2015’s new enemy, who murderously pursue the “media-buzz affect.” In a special exercise which simulates a real-life scenario, the fighters of the IDF (Zahal)’s elite Duvdevan Unit prepare to face this unpredictable and fame-hungry enemy. This complex exercise forces the soldiers to adapt on the go, just as they do in real life.
The barks of stray dogs pierce the quiet night air, disrupting the silence the soldiers are trying to maintain. The soldiers attempt to calm them, but are unsuccessful. The dogs appear to sense that something is amiss. A terrified scream confirms the suspicions.
Initial reports suggest that between six and seven terrorists have infiltrated an Israeli community in Samaria. The soldiers systematically search every house in the area. Suddenly, they receive an alarming report: no one can contact the Cohen family. When they reach the Cohen residence they discover that the entire family has been brutally murdered. The force quickly understands that this is a ploy meant to distract them from the main attack taking place in the local elementary school. When they arrive at the school, one of the hostages runs to the soldiers and conveys a message from the terrorists: “Back up or we shoot everyone.”
This scenario is part of the Duvdevan Unit’s training, in which the soldiers are faced with a threat that has become more possible than ever in recent weeks: the infiltration of terrorists into Israeli communities. “We never really thought any of the scenarios we simulate would actually happen,” said Staff Sgt. I., one of the soldiers. “Recent events have made us understand that we are preparing to face substantial threats.”
Profiling 2015’s New Enemy: Who Are They and What Do They Want?
In recent weeks, a terrifying wave of terrorism has washed over Israel and Europe. On January 7, twelve people were murdered by terrorists at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, which took responsibility for the attack. Two days later, another Islamic terrorist held several hostages at gunpoint at Jewish supermarket “Hyper Cacher” in Paris. He killed four of the hostages. On February 14, a gunman carried out two shooting attacks in Denmark. He murdered two people, one in the first attack which took place during a free-speech debate in a cafe, and the other in the second attack, which targeted a synagogue.
“Everyone has been overwhelmed by the recent terror events, which have become a global concern,” said Capt. A., a company commander in the Counter-Terrorism School. “2015’s new enemy wants the ‘media effect’. It wants to create a buzz and to intrigue as many media outlets as possible, and then die as a martyr. How do you think police forces in Paris managed to identify the terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo shooting? They left their ID’s behind inside their getaway vehicle. Why did they leave them there? It was intentional! This is the true face of 2015’s new enemy. They want all the world to know who they are.”
How to Deal With A Reckless Enemy
Dealing with a fame-hungry enemy places the soldiers in a delicate situation in which they are required to control the terrorist and prevent the terrorist from controlling them. “There is a complex psychological aspect that we, as commanders, need to take into consideration,” said Capt. A. “For instance, a terrorist might negotiate with us and pose an ultimatum but then change his mind, even if we decide to cooperate with his demands. He might not be willing to negotiate at all. It depends on the terrorist’s character and his objective. Either way, the commanders need to have a skill set that will allow them to deal with all of these situations.”
When human lives are at stake and time is of the essence, one of the main challenges is prioritizing. Attention has to be divided between the hostages, the terrorists, and collaboration with other forces. “It is important to keep in mind that your goal is to minimize damage and find the most effective solution with the manpower and means available,” said Capt. A. “Throughout our entire service, we train and prepare for multiple scenarios. We don’t want anything to happen, but when it does, we carry out the mission with a sense of purpose. We do everything we can to protect civilian lives.”