The Egoz Reconnaissance Unit (Hebrew: יחידת אגוז, Yechidat Egoz) is an Israel Defense Forces infantry unit that specializes in guerilla and anti-guerilla warfare. The Egoz Battalion is part of the Northern Command’s Golani Brigade.
Egoz is a Hebrew word meaning ‘nut’ (meaning ‘seed’, not ‘crazy’), although in the case of the unit, it is also an abbreviation for Anti Guerilla and Micro-Warfare (Anti Gerila VeLohama Zeira).
Before the year 2000, Egoz operated mainly in Israel’s Northern Command, combatting threats from the Hezbollah. Following Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, its operations were moved to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2003 and 2004, Egoz prevented more terrorist acts than any other IDF unit. The unit still does some reconnaissance in southern Lebanon.
The Egoz Unit was founded in 1956 as a special forces unit (sayeret), but was disbanded and re-organized in 1964 due to a friendly fire incident. After the Six-Day War, it became a battalion. It was disbanded again following the Yom Kippur War due to manpower shortages in other units, and re-formed in 1995 as an anti-guerilla unit (company). Most of the initial fighters came from the Shimshon Unit. Its commander was from the Navy Commandos and so much of the discipline, tactics and professionalism come from the Navy Commandos, not from Golani.
The training of an Egoz units begins with basic training, advanced exercises, and unit marches, after which each soldier is interviewed with Israeli intelligence to determine if he should be screened out from the second phase of training. The second phase consists of learning camouflage warfare, various kinds of assaults, land navigation in pairs, and completing the squad leaders course, jeep driving course, parachute course, concealment course and the alpine course – if there is snow in the Hermon area.
When operating in Lebanon, the unit uses unmarked bullets, as well as the Russian-made RPD and PK light machine guns. Soldiers using the M16 standard issue weapon have the Litton Akila night vision system mounted on it.
2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict
In the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, five members of the Egoz Unit were killed and six wounded in Maroun al-Ras. According to the IDF, 20 members of the Hizbullah were killed.