LOTAR Eilat is a reserve only special forces group located in the southern city Of Eilat. Due to the distance of Eilat from other places,it was decided to form an SF team that can handle hostage rescue and all kinds of CT missions in the city
The Israeli city of Eilat is very unique. It is the most south city in Israel as well as Israel's primary resort city. The large number of high value tourist oriented targets in the city on the one hand, and the proximity to the Israeli-Jordanian border on the other hand, makes the city very prone and vulnerable to terror attacks.
As the city is located remotely from any base of an IDF or a civilian CT unit, in 1978 the IDF formed LOTAR Eilat (Unit 7707) - a CT and hostage rescue outfit located in the city.
As the chances for such a scenario and an actual deployment of the unit are rather low, there was no need to form the unit as a mandatory service unit, and it was built as an all reserve one, similar to Unit Alpinistim.
Originally, the unit was formed as an engagement unit, hence a rapid deployment unit that can provide an initial response until a better equipped and a bigger size takeover unit will arrive and conduct the hostage rescue raid.
However, in 1995, due to the unit's repeated successful track record over the years, it was decided to promote it to the rare takeover unit status, together with the IDF two other takeover units - Shayetet 13 and Sayeret MATKAL.
Today, LOTAR Eilat is the only IDF unit which specializes in rescuing hostages. In all other IDF CT capable units, including Sayeret MATKAL and Shayetet 13, CT and hostage rescue are only secondary capabilities. Even in the second all CT IDF unit - Sayeret Duvdevan - the focus is on undercover CT applications rather then on hostage rescue as in LOTAR Eilat. As such, the unit is considered as the most experienced and the most capable IDF hostage rescue unit.
In the entire Israeli SF community, including both civilian and military units, LOTAR Eilat is the second most capable hostage rescue after the fourth Israeli Takeover unit - Unit YAMAM.
During wartime the unit act as a special commando unit.
In 1987 the Intifada - the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli regime - broke out in the Territories. In response, the IDF formed two dedicated undercover CT units - Sayeret Duvdevan, which operated in the Judah and Samaria region, and Sayeret Shimshon, which operated in the Gaza Strip region.
LOTAR Eilat worked closely with Sayeret Shimshon and they have conducted many successful undercover joint operations. The cooperation between the two units stooped after the Oslo Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement in 1993-1994, resulting in the IDF retreat from the Gaza Strip and the disbanding of Sayeret Shimshon.
In August 1989 the unit was involved in its first hostage rescue operation. A Jordanian soldier crossed the Israeli-Jordanian border, entered the Lotan Kibbutz and kidnapped a hostage. A LOTAR Eilat team responded to the incident, and conducted a very successful raid on the house, killing the Jordanian soldier and freeing the hostage.
In September 1995, an Iranian airliner was kidnapped by an emotionally disturbed individual and landed at the Uvda AFB. Once more, the unit handled the incident successfully and after negotiations the kidnaper had surrendered himself.
The Iranian airliner incident was the IDF trigger to turning the unit into a Takeover unit, resulting in bigger resources, and the authorization to perform independent hostage rescue raids, without the need to wait for a takeover unit to arrive.
The unit was involved in another airplane incident in November 2000. A Russian hijacker took over a Dagestan Airlines airplane on route to Moscow, along with its 50 passengers, using a fake bomb. The airliner landed in the Uvda AFB and eventually the kidnaper had surrendered himself. The Dagestan incident was also handled by Unit YAMAM.
Since October 2000, due to the recent Israeli-Palestinian clashes, the unit is also involved in the deployment in the Territories.
Training : All the unit's operators are reserve personnel who live in the city of Eilat or in the nearby Kibbutzim. Some of them had already undergone a CT course during their mandatory service. However, most of them undergone the CT course only upon acceptance to the unit and then received additional inner unit training.
While a reserve unit, the unit's personnel train intensely, almost on a daily basis. A major focus is placed on storming large hotels and this kind of scenario, requiring special expertise, is one of the reasons for the unit's unique Takeover status.
Unlike the IDF CT units, whose personnel served only three years mandatory service, the operators in LOTAR Eilat serve for many years, much like in the Israeli civilian SF units. The unit is especially renown by its snipers, which are considered to be among the finest in the Israeli SF community.
In order to become a sniper in the unit, one must first serve few years as a regular assault operator and only then, after demonstrating his skills, he can apply for a sniper position.
The unit trains both alone and with other IDF Takeover units. Since there is a big international harbor in the city, the unit also conducts frequent joint training with Shayetet 13. If such a scenario occurs, involving hostage rescue onboard a maritime vessel (Minister Scenario), the unit will act as an Engagement unit as Shayetet 13 is the only Israeli unit allow to carry out maritime Takeover raids.
The unit trains closely with Unit YAMAM, sharing techniques and equipment. The two units train on operating side by side, and if a future large-scale hostage rescue incident will take place in south of Israel, they will most likely joined forces and handle it together as they did in the Dagestan Airliner incident.
In continuation of international counter terrorist operator series with close cooperation with my mentor Mr Eitan Meyr I'd like to introduce you a LOTAR Eilat operator - conceptual bash, enjoy!!