The Shaldag Unit is a special forces unit under the command of the Israeli Air Force and is considered to be one of the most elite units in the IDF. Most of their operations are classified and not known to the public.
The unit was established in 1974 in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. The first commander of the unit was Muki Betser. In the beginning the unit served as a reserve company of the Sayeret Matkal Commando Brigade. Only a few years later the unit became an operative unit under the direct command of the Israeli Air Force.
In 1991 Shaldag took part in the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the Operation Solomon. In the 1990s it took part in many activities in Lebanon, including Operation Accountability in 1993 and Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996.
During the Second Lebanon War, Shaldag operated deep inside Lebanon and carried out critical missions against Hezbollah.
According to Muki Betser, the founder of the unit, the name of this unit, which is translated “kingfisher”, originates in the similarity of the operations to the nature of the bird.