Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank
Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank
Photo: Ziv Koren
Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank

Israel's counter-terror fighters adapt to coronavirus

Though their missions remain unchanged, the police special unit must now operate using protective gear and oxygen masks to protect themselves - and their detainees - during the pandemic

Elisha Ben Kimon |
Published: 04.23.20 , 18:57
The special counter-terrorism unit of the Israel Police, known in Hebrew by the acronym Yamam, has not been idle since the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic.
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  • And while reality has changed almost every aspect of life in Israel and around the world, this group of highly trained fighters has had keep operating with new protocols and new and often challenging equipment in order to protect themselves from the possibility of contagion.
    Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank
    Police anti-terror unit disinfect themselves and their gear ahead of their mission in the West Bank
    (Photo: Ziv Koren)
    Before leaving on their mission Monday, in pursuit of a suspect near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, the Yamam forces followed new protocols.
    They disinfected themselves, their gear and their vehicles and added oxygen masks to their personal tool kits.
    "Our masks are connected to bellows that provide the men with oxygen, " says Superintendent A, who commands the unit. "We have fitted special communication devices inside."
    Though covered in gleaming white protective gear that is easily visible from afar, fighters attempted to conceal themselves as they neared their suspect's presumed location.
    Police anti-terror unit forces near Tulkarem on the West Bank Police anti-terror unit forces near Tulkarem on the West Bank
    Police anti-terror unit forces near Tulkarem
    (Photo: Ziv Koren)
    "Our methods of operation have remained unchanged. We initiate contact and proceed as always until we have apprehended our target," says A.
    "Once we have our guy, we explain that we must protect him as well as ourselves and that he too must wear the protective gear we provide for him. We want to prevent contamination in our vehicles," he says.
    Police anti-terror unit arrests suspect near the West Bank city of Tulkarem Police anti-terror unit arrests suspect near the West Bank city of Tulkarem
    Police anti-terror unit arrests suspect near the West Bank city of Tulkarem
    (Photo: Ziv Koren)
    "In most cases, we found our suspects were cooperative because of the coronavirus."
    Back at base, the forces repeated a disinfection procedure for themselves and their gear so that they would be set to go the next time they are called to embark on a mission.
    Each fighter is vital, each one has a specific role in the unit so strict protocols are in place when on a mission and when back in base, to ensure none is infected by the coronavirus and unable to carry out his duties.
    Police anti-terror forcesPolice anti-terror forces
    Police anti-terror forces in special gear
    (Photo: Ziv Koren)
    "Our fighters have a responsibility that they comprehend," A says. "Anyone exhibiting even mild symptoms must stay away so that others in the unit do not get sick."
    The counter-terror unit had been called into operation a number of times since the pandemic broke out and has functioned well with their new protective gear.
    They have been in contact with similar squads around the world, all operating under the same conditions.
    "We've kept in touch with our colleagues in Italy, which was so badly impacted by the virus," E says.
    "We have a close relationship with them and hold joint training sessions. When the pandemic began, we called the commanders and offered tips and advice on how best to maintain the level of combat under these conditions. We are fighting a new, invisible enemy, but we have adapted ourselves for any scenario."

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