The infiltration of Kibbutz Lotan on Tuesday by a lone intruder from Jordan brought to light the existence of a special Israel Defense Force volunteer unit trained in anti-terrorist techniques, including the freeing of hostages.
The unit is based in Eilat because of the geographic distance of Israel’s southernmost city from the rest of the country. Lotan is about 12 miles north of Eilat.
The unit’s members all serve their normal reserve duties in regular army units. They volunteered for extra service in the Eilat area.
Members of the unit spend much of their free time training for operations such as that to which they were called Tuesday, when an apparently demented Jordanian army soldier crossed over the border and appeared in a date orchard on the kibbutz.
The soldier, identified by Jordanian authorities as Farid Ali Mustafa, shot an American kibbutz volunteer and grabbed a 20-year-old Israeli woman, whom he held hostage in a tool shed.
The commander of the special IDF unit, a merchant in Eilat, negotiated with the infiltrator for some three hours before it was decided that shooting him was the only way likely to win the hostage’s release.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.