Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Israeli Engineering Corps
In the Israeli Defence Forces the combat engineers are organized under the Israel Engineering Corps חיל ההנדסה הקרבית . In addition to IEC sappers, each infantry brigade has an engineering company trained with basic engineering and EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) skills. IEC sappers are often attached to other units (such as armored divisions or infanty) in order to help them breach through obstacles and handle explosive threats.
The IEC barret's color is silver and their symbol include a sword on a tower with a blast halo on the background. The IEC mottos are "Always First" and "The hard - we shall do today, the impossible - we shall do tomorrow".
Beside extensive training in basic combat engineering, IEC are specialized and go through advanced training in their profession. The professions are:
- Sapper: trained with all the basic engineering skills and also trained at high infantry level. Their main role is to breach through terrain obstacles (natural and artificial) and enable ground forces to advance in the battle field. They are trained to supply close combat support for both armored fighting vehicles and infantry. Some of them are trained in driving the IEC standart CEV: the IDF Puma .
- Engineering Vehicles Operator (EVO): less combatant but nonetheless important, these soldiers are skilled in the operation of heavy mechanical equipment and engineering vehicles such as heavy bulldozers, excavators, cranes, tractors and mine-breaching devices. Called צמ"ה (TZAMA) in Hebrew.
- Bulldozer Operators: belong to the EVO, these soldiers are operating the IDF armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, including under heavy fire. Their roles are versatile and differ according to the units whom they are attached. The D9 operators perform construction, destruction, breaching and EOD missions while assisting to tanks, infantry and even special forces during battle.
- NBC Disposal: called "purifiers", they are expert in handling nuclear, biological and chemical threats.
- EOD experts: the Explosive Ordnance Disposal are experts in detonating explosives without damage. Among their equipment you can find the Barret M82A1 and remote-control EOD robots with shotguns and mechanic-arms. The EOD are the military equivalent of the police's bomb squad. In the IDF, they are a part of the elite Engineering unit Sayeret Yaalom.
- Demolition experts: they are specially trained in blowing up things in the most accurate and effective way. They blow things ranging from cellular phones and doorlocks up to tanks and large buildings. In the IDF, the demolition experts are united in Sayeret Yaalom (Sayeret is the Israeli name for SF elite unit) and therefore gain high infantry training as well.
- Fortification experts: assigned on designing and overseeing the construction of bases, outposts , bridges and fortifications. Construction itself is usually done by the EVOs.
- Counter-Tunnels experts: established in 2003 by the late Cptain Aviv Hakani , these IEC soldiers are expert in finding smuggling tunnels and demolishing them. They operate in Rafah during the al-Aqsa Intifada and received recommendation of honor for their activity. The Rafah tunnel team was united with the IEC elite unit Sayeret Yaalom.
The Israeli Engineering Corps ( IEC חה"ן ) are based upon the sabotage unit of the Palmach and the tractors operators units of the Israeli War of Independence. In the first years, the IEC drew their soldiers mainly from Jews who served in the British Royal Engineers.
In the Israeli wars
In the Israeli War of Independence, the IEC blasted bridges over the Jordan River and the streams of the southern Coastal plain in order to stop the advance of the Arab armored forces into the Israeli civilian rear. The IEC also helped in breaching the "Burma Road" into the sieged Jerusalem.
In the 1967 Six Day War the IEC stormed the Jordanian fortification the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. After the Israeli annexed the entire Old City, the IEC removed landmines planted in the city by the Jordanians. This was the first war in which Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were employed by the IEC.
After the war, the IEC helped to build a fortification line of defense along the Suez Canal and was awarded with Israel Prize for security. The Israeli Engineering Corps was the first corps to ever win such an award.
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War the IEC battalions attached to Ariel Sharon's armored Brigade breached the Suez Canal and built bridges over it. This effort enabled Sharon and Avraam Eden "Bern" armored divisons to pass the canal and surround the 3rd Egyptian Army, forcing it to surrender. The bridging of the canal is regarded by many as the turning point of the war in the southern front. On the northern front, an IEC Caterpillar D9 bulldozer was the first ever motorized vehicle to reach the peak of the Hermon.
In the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee the IEC worked intensively to breach ways and open routes to Israeli forcing, including the disarming of many landmines and IEDs. They were also responsible for building fortifications and outposts.
The October 2000 Lebanon abduction
On October 7 2000 three Israeli combat engineering soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah on Shebaa Farms, a territory in Southern Lebanon occupied by Israel for security reasons and claimed by Lebanon. The soldiers, Beni Avraham , Adi Avitan and Omar Sawaed , suffered fatal injuries during their abduction. Their bodies were retrieved in 2004 at a prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah.
A series of accusations was made against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for having cooperated with the abduction by press and partisan web sites. Those accusations stem from a video, whose existence was originally denied by U.N. officials, recorded by Indian peacekeepers one day after the abduction. The video, which the U.N. agreed to provide to Israeli officials in June 2001 with civilian faces blurred, showed abandoned vehicles with fake U.N. license plates and uniforms, and Hezbollah supporters intercepting U.N. efforts to retrieve the vehicles. A U.N. investigation also found no evidence to support accusations of peacekeepers involvement in the abduction.  Although the bereaved families met with Kofi Annan, they refused to accept the UN version. On September 2004, the bereaved families announced their intention to sue the UN, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Lebanon for their parts in the abduction. 
The al-Aqsa Intifada
During the al-Aqsa Intifada which erupted in September 2000, the IEC were employed vastly. The EOD squad had to disarm many Palestinian IED explosive charges and booby traps. In many cases, the IEC also detonated explosive belts captured on Palestinian suicide bombers. The IEC also dynamited Palestinian houses, bomb labs and smuggling tunnels.
However, the IEC were most known for operating the armored IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, which are cited by many Israelis as a key factor in keeping IDF casualties low and successfully fighting terrorism. On the other side, for Palestinians, the bulldozers became a nightmare, as they bulldozed many Palestinian buildings and shrubbery, and were almost impervious to Palestinian attacks. The IEC bulldozers' operators unit received an honor of recommendation for its (controversial) activity in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield.
Bulldozers were also massively employed in Rafah to counter terrorist smuggling tunnels. Human Rights Watch published a report criticizing the extensive destruction of Palestinian houses in the southern Gaza strip, and said it was unlawful, claiming that Israel uses the Palestinian smuggling tunnels as a pretext to create a "buffer zone" along the Gaza-Egypt border. In Rafah, the IEC formed a special unit, designated for searching and destroying smuggling tunnels. They also received an honor of recommendation, for their conduct.
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