Nurturing Sharon's Rimon legacy
The historical Rimon is considered the spiritual progenitor of subsequent Israel Defense Forces units that operate disguised as Arabs.
The new unit has an interesting, not to say problematic, heritage. Its initiator, former GOC Central Command Yoav Galant, himself an esteemed commando fighter, intentionally chose the name Rimon, also the name of a special operations unit established by another GOC Central Command, Ariel Sharon, in 1970 in order to fight terror cells operating in the Gaza Strip.
The historical Rimon is considered the spiritual progenitor of subsequent Israel Defense Forces units that operate disguised as Arabs and its modes of operation, especially the way its people interrogated and killed Palestinian terrorists and suspects in the field, are no longer accepted as they once were. A few years after its establishment, the unit was reassigned to other missions and in effect dismantled. To this day in the IDF it is considered a pathbreaker in the area of non-conventional and guerrilla fighting but also a unit that operated without sufficient direction.
Over the years, at least two convicted murderers, Daniel Okev and Jean Elbaz, claimed at their trials that they had been affected by traumas suffered during their service in the unit. In the new and heritage-less Rimon unit they are interested in nurturing the connection to the legend of its predecessor. However, they stress that while that Rimon engaged only in the dirty microfighting in Gaza backstreets, the new Rimon's horizons in the 21st century are far broader and include all the expanses of the southern desert.
Several weeks ago, Maj. Benny, the commander of the new Rimon, met with the commander of the Rimon of the past, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Meir Dagan, until recently head of the Mossad. He is not prepared to reveal operational advice he received from Dagan, who bestowed insights and pipe smoke in equal measure.
"It was very important to him to say that contrary to the legend, the unit was not named after the hand grenade (rimon yad in Hebrew ) but rather after the pomegranate tree (etz harimon ), one of the fruits with which the Land of Israel was blessed."