Unit 101

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Unit 101 was a special forces unit of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), founded and commanded by Ariel Sharon on orders from Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in August 1953.[1] It was created in order to better deal with a spate of Arab fedayeen attacks against Israelis, which the IDF was unsuccessful in halting.[2]

The unit was merged into Battalion 890 during January 1954, mainly due to the fact that they killed dozens of unarmed citizens during the raid known as Qibya massacre into the village of Qibya.[1][3] Beside the Sayeret Matkal, they are considered to be the unit with the most influence on the Israeli infantry oriented units—including both special and conventional units.[3]



Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Israel was faced with cross-border raids by Arab militants. Initially these were small scale attacks launched by refugees often motivated by economic reasons, but they were quickly adopted by the military of the neighbouring Arab states, who organized them into semi-formal brigades which mounted larger scale operations from 1954 onwards.[4] According to Israel, about 9,000 attacks were launched from 1949 to 1956,[5] resulting in hundreds of Israeli civilian casualties.[6][7][8]

At the same time the IDF was ill prepared to respond to these raids. The Palmach, its three best combat units of the 1948 war, had been disbanded at Ben-Gurion’s instruction.[9] Many experienced officers had left the army after the war, and the Israeli society had undergone a difficult period of impoverishment. As a result the IDF did not have any units capable of effective reprisal, and did not perform well in offensive operations.[10]

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