The Home Front Command operates in various emergency situations, specializing in the field of civilian protection. In times of crisis or war, the Home Front Command operates to its fullest capabilities, using all its resources in order to instruct the civilian population on how to cope with the threats facing Israel. The purpose of the Home Front Command is to save lives. The Home Front Command operates search and rescue missions in Israel and around the world, aiding in rescue and recovery from incidents such as terror attacks, floods, conflagrations, etc.
Search and Rescue
The IDF National Search and Rescue Unit, under the Home Front Command, is a highly skilled force trained to execute special search and rescue missions, both in Israel and abroad. The unit was founded in 1983, and its’ expertise is in rescuing people trapped under ruins.
The unit is comprised primarily of reservists who are always on call, with prepared kits to enable immediate departure, and a small core of soldiers in mandatory service. In addition to the rescue teams, the unit employs doctors, engineers, mechanical engineering equipment operators and rescue dog handlers.
In November 2003 the first Search and Rescue Company, the Shavit Company, was founded in response to the need for a large operational S&R force that would be available at all times. Subsequently, two additional companies, Hetz and Rotem, were established. The soldiers are all graduates of the Search and Rescue course, and are trained in first aid, Krav Maga, infantry, ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) warfare, and more.
The unit is on-call 24 hours a day and are deployed whenever there is a disaster – earthquakes, tsunamis, conventional or unconventional terrorist attacks. The S&R companies also assist IDF infantry forces during routine operations.
The following are some of the operations in which the Home Front Command’s search and rescue units, in coordination with the Medical Corps, have participated:
January 2010 – Following the devastating earthquake in the Haiti, the Home Front Command and Medical Corps quickly dispatched a relatively small yet very determined and highly experienced delegation to provide immediate emergency aid to those affected by the earthquake. The IDF field hospital was credited by many observers and media for providing the most effective emergency services in Haiti. The IDF aid delegation in Haiti included search and rescue teams, a maternity ward, intensive care units, pediatrics, surgeons, pharmaceutical supplies and more.
January 2006 – Following a building collapse in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, a Home Front Command delegation was sent to the area in order to aid in the extrication of those trapped in the ruins and in the treatment of the survivors. The delegation, led by then-GOC Home Front Command Major General Yitzhak (Jeri) Gershon, consisted of eighty soldiers and officers, in regular and reserve duty, among them medics and professional rescue crews. The delegation also brought along search and rescue as well as medical equipment. During the operation IDF troops rescued two people trapped in the ruins and recovered seven bodies. Additionally, the delegation aided in establishing an information center for the families and in organizing a hospital to absorb casualties of the disaster.
December 2005 – The collapse of a crane on a building in a Jaffa neighborhood.
August 2005 – The train disaster at Revadim.
September 2004- A terror attack in Taba, Sinai.
May 2001- The Versailles disaster in Jerusalem.
1999 – Aid to the casualties of the earthquake in Turkey. The delegation rescued 12 survivors and recovered 140 bodies.
August 1998 – A rescue mission in Kenya. The delegation rescued three people and recovered 95 bodies.
September 1985 – An earthquake in Mexico.