Get to know the IDF Infantry Corps brigades: Golani, Givati, Kfir, Nahal, Tzanchanim

IDF infantry brigades make up a central part of the Israeli army. Combat soldiers within these brigades serve in the most dangerous areas. Get to know the five IDF infantry brigades: Golani, Givati, Kfir, Nahal, Tzanchanim.
IDF soldiers Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Channel 2 News

The Israel Defense Force (IDF), one of the most powerful and well-respected armies in the world, consists of five infantry brigades. The soldiers serving in the IDF Infantry Corps serve in high-risk areas such as along the country’s borders and in the West Bank. Each of these brigades has its own special and unique characteristics and expertise, which make it an integral part of the Israeli army.

Golani: Traditionally associated with the northern region of Israel, the Golani Brigade is a top request among new IDF draftees who want to serve as combat soldiers. Gadi Eizenkot, the current IDF Chief of Staff, was the head commander of this highly-decorated brigade in the late 1990s. The brigade consists of five battalions: 3 infantry battalions, an anti-guerrilla and urban special forces unit and a reconnaissance battalion. The Golani Brigade was an essential part of the IDF combat operations carried out during the Second Intifada and the Second Lebanon War. Oron Shaul, whose body is being held captive by Hamas in Gaza after he was killed during Operation Protective Edge, was a Golani soldier. He served in the 13th Gideon Infantry Battalion.

Givati: If you see an Israeli soldier with a purple beret, he belongs to the Givati Brigade. This brigade serves under the IDF Southern Command and is the main infantry brigade stationed along the Israeli border with Gaza. The Givati Brigade Insignia includes a red fox, a white sword and a green cactus. Givati soldiers Major Benaya Sarel, Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni were killed during Operation Protective Edge during what was supposed to be a temporary ceasefire. Like Shaul, Goldin’s body was abducted by Hamas terrorists and is being held captive by the terrorist organization in Gaza. Captain Ziv Shilon, who lost his left arm in an explosion along the Gaza Strip security fence in 2012, served as a company commander in the Givati Brigade’s Tzabar Battalion.

Kfir: The Kfir Brigade is the youngest infantry brigade in the IDF. Established in the 1990s, this brigade specializes in missions carried out in the West Bank territory, including counter-terrorism operations, patrols, regular security activities and apprehending Palestinian terrorists and suspects. Kfir soldiers wear camouflaged berets. Soldiers interested in serving in two popular units, Sayeret Oketz (the special K-9 unit) and Sayeret LOTAR (the special counter-terrorism unit), must enlist into the Kfir Brigade and go through basic training as part of this brigade. During basic training, there is a selection process for these two highly requested units. 

Archive Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Nahal: The IDF’s Nahal Brigade was established in 1982. Nahal soldiers have participated in major IDF operations and wars since the brigade’s founding. The brigade’s headquarters are located the Beit Lid base, which is near Netanya. Nahal soldiers are equipped with Tavor rifles. While there are some youth movements throughout Israel that encourage their members to serve within Nahal, any Israeli eligible for combat service can be drafted into this brigade.

Tzanchanim: Tzanchanim is the IDF’s prestigious paratroopers brigade. This brigade is considered an elite unit within the IDF Infantry Corps. All Tzanchanim units are named after snakes (Elapidae, Viper, Flying Serpent and more). In the 1967 Six Day War, Tzanchanim soldiers participated in the battle to regain control over Jerusalem. The three soldiers featured in the iconic photograph of the Western Wall taken by famous Israeli photographer David Rubinger in 1967 were Tzanchanim soldiers.

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