חשיפה: המפקד החדש של סיירת מטכ”ל מונה. הוא אל”מ יונתן רום. הצנזורה הצבאית אוסרת את פרסום שמו
Maariv announced the appointment of a new commander of the IDF’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. He is Col. Yonatan Rom, age 41 . He was raised on a cooperative moshav near the western Galilee town of Nahariya. Prior to his new assignment, he commanded a paratroop brigade and served during Operation Protective Edge, which resulted in the killing of 2,300 Gazans, two-thirds of whom were civilians. An IED in Shejaya exploded near him and the resulting injuries nearly killed him. During that battle, the IDF killed over 100 Gazans, nearly half of whom were women and children. He also served as an interrogation officer in the army intelligence unit, AMAN. He has served in the IDF since 1995.
Unfortunately, I have only found a pixellated image of him. Military censorship prohibits both naming such commanders and publishing their photographs. If you can unpixellate this image or find the original, please be in touch.
UPDATE: An Israeli friend discovered the video below in which Col. Rom speaks.
Sayeret Matkal is the army’s top special forces unit. It has played major roles in some of the bloodiest massacres in the history of the Israeli military. Ehud Barak is a former Sayeret Matkal commander and was a member of the unit when he assassinated top PLO leaders in Beirut disguised as a woman. The operation was called, ironically Wrath of God. Only an Israeli would associate the Divine with an act of pure human vengeance. The unit also assassinated the PLO’s second-in-command, Abu Jihad, in Tunis. It also directed the botched operation to free the Israeli hostages in the Maalot terror operation. It resulted in the deaths of 25 Israelis and the wounding of nearly 70 more.
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Naftali Bennett joined Sayeret Matkal in the 1990s and famously boasted about the sheer number of “Arabs” he killed. Later, he commanded a different unit which penetrated Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah fighters. They were ambushed and Bennett demanded massive howitzer firepower to extricate himself from his predicament. As a result, an errant shell struck a building housing hundreds of refugees. Over 105 were killed.
I wrote this about Bennett and the Sayeret Matkal mentality in general:
[Israeli journalist] Sarna points out that…while military heroes often make attractive political leaders, the journalist argues that this particular elite force, schooled in secrecy, discipline and absolute command, makes for exceedingly bad prime ministers as proven by Ehud Barak and Netanyahu himself, both veterans of this special forces unit.
Successful political leaders consult with both allies and opponents. They compromise. They decide when it’s wise to fight and when it’s wise to withdraw. For the good politician, discretion is the better part of valor.
A Sayeret Matkalnik knows only one gear: forward. He doesn’t hesitate, he charges forward. He acts and worries about consequences afterward. He knows his bosses will have his back and doesn’t worry about those vacillators in sitting in ministries. The very contempt for compromise that makes a good special forces commanders makes for a bad commander-in-chief.
In its most famous operation, the unit, commanded by Yoni Netanyahu, assaulted the Entebbe airport and freed the hijacked passengers. Netanyahu and three hostagess died in the operation.
There are soldiers serving in the unit who do have a moral conscience and reject the killing they were assigned. The book featured above tells them in book-length.
Its commanders are always at the top of lists of IDF officers targeted for potential future war crimes tribunals.
Lior Azar says
In 2006, Bennett wasn’t part of Sayers’s Matkal. He was in reserves with Maglanists.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Lior Azar: Right, he entered Sayeret Matkal in the 90s, but transferred to Maglan after officers training school.
D. H says
Bennet was 10 years old at the start of the first Lebanon war, you meant operation grapes of wrath.
Netanyahu was the only soldier killed in Entebbe, the three other victims were hoatages, not soldiers.
Richard Silverstein says
@ D.H.: Yes of course your’re right. It was the second Lebanon War. Not the first. Thanks for both corrections.