The YAMAM ( ימ"מ ) is the elite civilian counter-terrorism unit of Israel. The YAMAM has a world-wide reputation as a professional and successful counter terrorism unit and it is capable of both hostage-rescue operations and offensive take-over raids (for use against terrorists). Besides counter-terrorism duties, the YAMAM also performs SWAT duties and undercover police work.
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Name and organization
YAMAM stands for Special Police Unit (יחידת משטרה מיוחדת). In Israel it is also called "The Unit for Counter-Terror היחידה ללוחמה בטרור". The YAMAM answers to the MAGAV central command and belongs to the civilian Israeli police forces rather than the military. Its operators and officers are professional policemen on payroll, usually with combat experience from their military service within the IDF.
The YAMAM is self-dependent, training its own operators in all fields, such as sniping, recon, dog operating, bomb disposal, etc. As a result, the YAMAM has a very rapid deployment time and high coordination between various squads (sniping squad, entry team, engagement force, etc.).
The YAMAM's primary duties are:
- Hostage rescue (terrorist events).
- Hostage rescue (criminal events).
- Counter terrorism (preventative operations).
- SWAT duties – handling dangerous criminials.
- Undercover police operations.
- VIP security.
Most of the YAMAM's activity is classified, and published YAMAM operations are often credited to other units. Nevertheless, the YAMAM enjoys a high reputation among SF professionals and the Israeli public.
The YAMAM was established after the Maalot massacre, where a failed operation by military special forces units ended with 21 children murdered before the terrorists were killed. Since hostage rescue in friendly territory is different from counter- terrorism in hostile areas, it was decided to establish an elite civilian force, which develops and practices a special CQB (Close Quarters Battles) doctrine for counter-terrorism operations in friendly territory and hostage rescue. In the late 1974 the YAMAM was established as a special forces counter-terrorism unit of the MAGAV – the combat arm of the Israeli police.
Operational record 1974 – September 2000
The YAMAM has carried out many counter-terror operations. Some of the missions known to the public prior to the al-Aqsa Intifadaare listed below:
- In March, 1988, the YAMAM was to called into action after a group of three Palestinian terrorists hijacked a bus full of women near Dimona, in an incident known as the "Mothers Bus". The YAMAM performed a rescue operation, killing all three terrorists, but didn't manage to prevent three Israeli passengers from being killed.
- On March 3, 2000, the YAMAM captured a terrorist group hidden in the Israeli-Arab town of Taibe with the aid of Sayeret Duvedvan and an IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. In the end of the raid, one terrorist was arrested and four were killed. 
Operational record during the al-Aqsa Intifada (since October 2000)
The YAMAM has carried out many counter-terror operations during the l-Aqsa Intifada within the last few years. The majority of them are classified. Some of the most notable are listed below:
- April 7, 2002: A combination of SHABAK, the YAMAM and the IDF leads to the capture of Case Aduwan, a Hamas terrorist who planned the Passover massacre in Netanya. Aduwan fortified himself in a house along with four armed terrorists. During the raid, YAMAM snipers took out two terrorists and IDF forces detonated a car bomb meant to be sent into an Israeli city. After 12 hours of heavy fire exchanges, an armoured IDF Caterpillar D9 demolished the house. Aduwan's body was found under the rubble.
- YAMAM and Sayeret Matkal rescued Israeli cab driver Eliyaho Goral, after he was kidnapped by Palestinian militants.
- June 23, 2003: YAMAM forces killed Hamas's head in Hebron, Abbedullah Qawasameh.
- December 3, 2003: YAMAM forces foiled an attempted massacre in Yokne'am school by Palestinian terrorists.
- YAMAM forces killed Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian terrorist who was responsible for the slaughter of a mother and her two children in Kibbutz Metzer.
- YAMAM forces, together with IDF elite units, arrested 12 al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorists, which used the shelter of a mental institute in Bethlehem to prepare a huge suicide bombing against Israel during Passover.
- July 25, 2004: YAMAM forces kill 6 Tanzim terrorists in Tul-Karem, including the local head and a linkman [??? fixme] to Hizbullah.
- November 21, 2004: Three Fatah militants were killed in a gunfight with the YAMAM. One of the dead was Mohammed Rassan Sheikh, a senior Fatah militant who hid in Arafat's compound for a long time. (Haaretz)