Military Wiki
Active 1974–present
Country  Israel
Branch Israel Air Force Flag.svg Israeli Air Force
Type Commando
Size Classified
Garrison/HQ Palmachim Airbase

Shaldag (Hebrew: שלדג‎, Kingfisher), also known as Unit 5101, is an elite Israeli Air Force commando unit.


Shaldag was founded in 1974, in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, by Muki Betzer, a Sayeret Matkal veteran who brought several Matkal veterans with him. Initially operating as a Sayeret Matkal reserve company, it was eventually transferred to the IAF.[1][2]

Shaldag's mission is to deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments to conduct special reconnaissance, establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and commando actions. Shaldag operates from Palmachim Airbase.[1] Shaldag soldiers carry M16 or M4A1 assault rifles fitted with the M203 grenade launcher. For special missions, they carry Glock 17 and 19 9mm series pistols and Mauser SR 82/66 sniper rifles.[3]

Known operations

Shaldag carried out several missions during Operation Litani of 1978. One of its last missions was reconnaissance near Hasbiya. The unit crossed into enemy territory, came under fire, and a team commander lost his leg to a landmine. The company commander managed to retreat without further casualties or the loss of equipment.[2] In 1984 Shaldag took part in Operation Moses in Sudan. In 1991 it took part in Operation Solomon: On May 24–25, hundreds of Shaldag men, regular as well as reserve, under the command of Benny Gantz, secured the airlift of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa to Israel.[2]

During the 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, Shaldag took part in operations Accountability and Grapes of Wrath, for the latter of which it received the Chief of Staff Citation.[2] During the 2006 Lebanon War, Shaldag took part in Operation Sharp and Smooth, the August 1 raid on Baalbek. Delivered by helicopters near Baalbek at 01:00, its troops proceeded north to the Sheik Habib neighborhood in order to arrest suspected Hezbollah operatives. En route, they encountered four Hezbollah fighters and killed them. A total of 19 Hezbollah fighters were killed, with no Israeli fatalities.[4][5]

In 2007 Shaldag was also reportedly involved in Operation Orchard, the destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor. The unit is reported to have infiltrated an underground depot near the Syrian site suspected of being a nuclear reactor, in order to designate the target for the incoming Israeli fighters that destroyed it.[6]

See also


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