Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lit the third candle of Hanukkah on Tuesday evening at the military base housing the Israel Defense Force’s ultra-secretive Unit 504, which specializes in human intelligence.

The president was briefed on the unit’s activities and then lit the candles with the soldiers and officers, along with the head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen Tamir Heyman, and the commander of Unit 504, Col. R.

“You are the wonders and miracles of our time,” the president told the unit. “Very few people know about your activities in a unit where reality far exceeds imagination. What you do cannot be spoken about. And the paths you tread remain in the shadows. But your contribution to the IDF, to the security of the State of Israel, is of unimaginable value.”

“The intelligence you collect,” the president continued, “is of strategic and tactical significance. Because of your daring, creative, ground-breaking and courageous actions, the IDF and of the State of Israel retain the upper hand.”

The president praised the men and women of the unit for their ability to always be one step ahead of the enemy, to constantly change and adapt.

He also acknowledged, however, that Israel’s achievements have come at a high cost.

“Tonight, candles are being lit all across the country, in homes and IDF bases,” said Rivlin. “Unfortunately, in many homes, it will be mixed with pain: the ongoing pain of loss for someone fallen in battle, the concern for those injured.

“I would like to wish those who have lost family members, have been injured, the families of our missing servicemen, you, the men and women of the IDF and all Israel—Happy Hanukkah! May we continue to act with force and determination and continue to bring light.”

At the ceremony, Maj. Gen Heyman said, “Unit 504 is the IDF’s HUMINT [human intelligence] force. It has special capabilities to take fields that are, for us, in the dark, in the shadows, and through its extremely special human skills, through detailed work and initiatives, through seeking to engage with the enemy—to bring important and significant intelligence to light.”

Heyman thanked Rivlin, as well as his soldiers and officers of the unit.

“My great thanks for the days and nights you give from a deep sense of mission and commitment to the security of the State of Israel,” he said.

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