update deskIsrael at War

Hundreds volunteer for new Gaza border counterterror unit

The "LOTAR Otef" unit will consist of troops who previously served in special forces and live in the Gaza border towns.

Reservists of the Israel Defense Forces' new "LOTAR Otef" counterterror force during a ceremony for the unit's establishment, June 3, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Reservists of the Israel Defense Forces' new "LOTAR Otef" counterterror force during a ceremony for the unit's establishment, June 3, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Days after its official inauguration, hundreds of Israel Defense Forces reservists have already volunteered to serve in a new elite counterterror unit created to protect Gaza border towns, the army said on Wednesday.

The unit, known as “LOTAR Otef”—the latter word being the Hebrew term for the Gaza envelope—was incorporated on Monday in the IDF’s 143rd (Gaza) Division as part of “learning the lessons that have emerged from the initial investigations into the events of Oct. 7,” the army announced.

The unit, commanded by a lieutenant colonel in the reserves, will consist of troops who previously served in special forces, live in the Gaza border towns or nearby communities, and will be ready for quick deployment.

Unit members will undergo specific counterterrorism training for “the challenges of the area,” according to the military statement. Hundreds of reservists have already applied and will begin training soon.

“The establishment of this unit during this period comprises the essence of the story of the State of Israel: From destruction to revival,” Lt. Col. (res.) “A.” stated at a ceremony for LOTAR Otef’s formation on Monday.

After the “blow” Israel received on Oct. 7, the new unit will serve “as a magnet for all those who have the defense of the homeland and the desire to continue their contribution to the country before their eyes,” said the commander, who was only identified by his Hebrew initial.

Some 3,000 terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza during Hamas’s invasion on Oct. 7, in addition to scores of Palestinian residents who crossed the border fence that day. Israeli security forces managed to kill approximately a thousand of the terrorists and captured many others.

Hamas has repeatedly threatened to repeat the massacre, with the terror group’s leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar warning last year that Oct. 7 was “just a rehearsal.”

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