Israeli Air Force Inadvertently Reveals Identity of Secret Unit in Marathon Snap

Israel Air Force posted a photo on Twitter of secret IDF unit combatants after they won a marathon. It forgot to blur out one essential detail

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People running at the Tiberias marathon, in 2014.
People running at the Tiberias marathon, in 2014. Credit: Gil Eliyahu

The Air Force, as it is sometimes jokingly said, acts on social media like a separate corps, which is friendly to the Israeli army. Last week the Air Force boastfully posted on Twitter a picture of the Shaldag unit combatants and wrote: “Our champions! Today the IDF championship was held in 10 kilometers and the big winners are the Shaldag unit! Shaldag came first in the unit heats, and two of its combatants came first and second in the personal heats with an average of 37:10 minutes!”

The event was the Tiberias Marathon, which also has a 10 kilometer heat. The Air Force spokesman’s staff blurred the combatants’ faces, but the group picture shows the numbers on their chests. It takes 10 minutes to look up a picture and the name of the IDF’s elite units. It’s simple and easy, courtesy of the Air Force’s arrogance and its ignorance of what the chest number means.

In such races, if you have a competitor’s chest number you can get his name and photograph. In fact, not only one photo, but a whole bunch of them from various angles. The combatant on the left in the picture, whose chest number is 15132, is Omer Ben Gdalya. No. 15133 is Shmuel Shuman, 15131 in the middle is Amit Beneta and so on and so forth.

The skilled reader can detect that the numbers are in serial order, i.e. they were all registered together and received consecutive numbers. This isn’t the only unit that was registered. Bahad 8, the physical training camp, registered all the special units that took part in the 10 kilometer heat in Tiberias.

From the unit’s shirt, it is also possible to identify each runner, his picture and what unit he belongs to. Maglan combatants’ numbers begin with 15002, the number of Ohad Ben Noon, and so on.

The Tiberias Marathon site has 53,000 pictures. Even someone who wanted to block his pictures appears behind other runners, and all the names and pictures of the IDF’s elite unit combatants can easily be mapped.

The military said in response to the report: “We thank the reporter for bringing this to our attention. It was, indeed, necessary to blur the soldiers’ numbers. The issue of the policy for registering for competitions of this type will be examined, and the procedures will be made clearer.”

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