Elite Commandos Watch Israel's Northern Border

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MT. HERMON, Israel - Mount Hermon is Israel's highest mountain peak and home to the country's only ski resort. It's a place designed for family fun.

But it's also Israel's northernmost military outpost, with more than 55 miles bordering the enemy states of Syria and Lebanon.

It's also patrolled by one of Israel's most elite commando units.

"Basically our mission is to protect the border where there is snow because the green units cannot do it in the snow," the alpine team commander told CBN News. For security reasons, he is referred to only as "Captain B."

They call them "phantoms of the mountain," and they looked like it when CBN News caught up with them during a blizzard. The Alpine Unit is trained to operate in snow, sleet, and other dangerous weather conditions.

"The most difficult thing is to navigate when the weather is close and you can't see," Captain B explained.

The unit was created in 1974 after Israel re-captured Mount Hermon, which was overrun by Syria during the Yom Kippur War.

CBN News was recently given a brief chance to see the Alpine Unit in action.

Captain B said all his soldiers are reservists in their 30s and are extremely physically fit.

"Basically when people come to the unit in the beginning, they start around five to six years of basic training in the snow. It's very hard," he explained.

Another alpinist commands the unit that runs the heavy snow removal equipment and transports the soldiers.

"So this unit is supposed to give an answer to every kind of problem that the IDF, (Israel Defense Forces) and also the civilians have because we have a lot of civilians coming here," the commander of the Alpine Snow Removal Unit told CBN News. "So that means also we have civilians sometimes that get injured or get lost and we also take care of them, too."

According to Captain B, the recent unrest in Syria hasn't affected the usually quiet border with the country.

But is the enemy capable of fighting in such wintry weather?

"I think, yes. That's the reason we are ready for them," Captain B answered.

--Published Jan. 27, 2012. 

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Reporter

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