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Silent Shots

Eliezer Shulman

They don’t seek honor, although they are true heroes — and no one even knows who they are. The Israeli anti-terror special forces unit, the Yamam, has been keeping Israel a safer place for close to forty years, rescuing hostages, nabbing bombers minutes before detonation, and settling the score with arch-terrorists. And when they lose one of their own, it’s just part of what they signed up for — may they always be protected.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A group of men who looked like Palestinian laborers were unloading diapers from
a van outside a mosque in Chevron, when Hamas terror mastermind Abdullah
Kawasme — the number-one wanted man in the West Bank responsible for the murder
of fifty-two Jews — walked through the crowd of worshippers. As he got into his
car and began to drive down the street, the diaper laborers opened fire and
gunned him down on the spot. He had had no way of knowing Israeli undercover
Israeli agents, members of an elite special forces unit known as the Yamam,
were about to settle accounts.

You might not have heard about the
hundreds of the unit’s successes, because most of them remain classified. But
last month, when a veteran Yamam fighter lost his life in the terror spree on
the Egyptian border, the unit’s commander, who rarely interfaces with the
media, said that “no small number of Israeli citizens owe their lives, without
even knowing it, to the fighters of this unit.”

The Yamam (an acronym for Yechidah Mishtartit
Meyuchedet, Special Police Unit) is the elite civilian counterterrorism unit in
The Yamam, Israel’s
SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team, is capable of both hostage-rescue
operations and offensive take-over raids against targets in civilian areas.
Because they deal with hostage rescue and other high-stakes situations, where
civilians are intermixed with terrorists, these fighters require extremely
precise weapons skills, and members spend grueling months of training with
firearms to become proficient enough to kill terrorists intermingled with
civilians while leaving the civilians unharmed.

One of those sharpshooters was Pascal Avrahami Hy”d,
the force’s oldest fighter at forty-nine, known by colleagues as “the fox.” Avrahami, whose shloshim is this
week, was killed in a firefight with terrorists near Eilat, one of eight
Israelis murdered in last month’s triple border attack. Avrahami, a
Torah-observant oleh from France, was the most veteran member
of the Israel Police’s Counterterrorism Unit. He came to Israel in 1977 and
joined the Yamam in 1985, having been awarded medals of valor for preventing
terrorist attacks in 1990 and again in 1995 — he once entered the rear window
of a bus as it was commandeered by terrorists and rescued the passengers — but
most of the missions in his twenty-six years on the force were top secret. And
they’ll remain that way even after his death.

“Pascal never needed to be viewed
as a hero. He was content with the fact that a person could go out to the
street without worrying that he’ll run into a terrorist,” said David Tzur,
Avrahami’s commander, who lead the force between 1991 and 1995. Avrahami, a
world-class sniper, “became a symbol of the unit,” said Tzur. “If I would have
asked how he would have chosen to die, I can assume he would have chosen to die
in battle, under fire.”


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