Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Israeli soldiers from the 8717 Battalion of the Givati Brigade operating in northern Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces has formed a new brigade for the hundreds of former elite commandos and General Staff officers who are flocking to volunteer as returning reservists.

The brigade is to be part of a new division called the 96th Division consisting of five reserve brigades that will be established gradually.


The person behind the initiative is Major General Moti Baruch, who was the commander of IDF Training Division. The IDF has already reached out to those expected to serve as generals in the new division.

The people who are expected to serve in the division are not only those who have passed the age of exemption from reserves (40+ years old) but also those who, in the past, were exempted from reserve service in general for various reasons.

One of the brigades now being formed is the Hashomer Brigade, which will include at least four battalions comprised of seasoned former members of elite combat units, according to a report published this weekend by the Hebrew-language Makor Rishon news outlet.

Hundreds of reservists who have technically aged out of the service – members of Egoz, Shaldag and other elite units – are joining the “Hashomer” Brigade along with many others.

These reservists have passed the age of 40 and were thus exempted from further reserve service.

“There are CEOs of companies, school principals, heads of pre-military preparatory schools and municipalities, and political consultants,” said Major Pergo, a married father of three, a veteran Nahal company commander who now serves as commander of the elite units.

Eight days after he was discharged, Pergo got a call from Yoaz Hendel, who suggested he join the battalion and head the new company. That was all it took for him to re-enlist.

“The main task right now is to defend the country,” he told Makor Rishon.

“They came because they want to make an impact; they want to be part of the defense force after what happened on October 7th. They don’t want to sit at home, they feel capable, and they are really in very good shape. They have been fighters since age 18 and it has become part of who they are.

“A few hours of training is all it took to shake off the rust, and in a very short time they looked like a commando team that has been training together for years,” he added. “We do very vigorous training and have received some very high-quality equipment and ammunition. We sleep very little and go home to our families on weekends only.”

Among the re-enlisted fighters are many whose children are now on active duty, including many fighting in Gaza; some have been wounded in combat and are currently in rehabilitation.

Their assistance is deeply appreciated by the IDF, which is facing a multi-front war at a time the number of available soldiers is shrinking.

More than 600 IDF active duty and reservist soldiers have been killed in action since the outbreak of war on October 7, 2023. Thousands of others have been wounded and thus taken out of action as well.

The new reserve brigade is seen as one way to beef up Israel’s military power. Hashomer will operate as part of the Border Protection Corps.

Lt. Col. (res) Il Russo, a past Ranger Base commander, will head the brigade, which will include the Magen Yonatan, Magen Shaul, Magen David and Be’eri battalions.

Magen Yonatan will include veterans of infantry units.

Magen Shaul is to combine border infantry and combat collection forces.

Magen David will be comprised of haredi religious soldiers from the Netzach Yehuda Battalion.

Be’eri – named for the decimated kibbutz attacked by Hamas on October 7th – will ultimately operate in central Gaza, but for the time being will be called upon for other missions. Lt. Col. (res) Yoaz Hendel, a former Communications Minister, will head this battalion.

Included in the Be’eri Battalion companies are fighters from Golani, Givati, Paratroops, Nahal and Kfir combat forces.

Thus far, more than 500 former reservists have volunteered for duty with Hashomer, including members of the elite Maglan, Egoz, Shaldag, Duvdevan, and even Sayeret Matkal units.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.