Kapap History (2)

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However, this rare commodity was threatened by German troops advancing eastward into North Africa and many Arab tribes openly siding with the Nazis. Reluctant at first, the British turned once again to Jewish fighters and formed the first official Israeli Special Forces unit on May 14, 1941, known as the Pal’ mach (a Hebrew acronym for Plugot Machatz, which means strike platoon). Although the original numbers of personnel sanctioned for Pal’ mach training under British supervision was only suppose to be 1,000 fighters, the Haganah decided to overstep their bounds and trained roughly 3000 men in preparation for a future Jewish army to be used after the war.The training that the Pal’ mach commandos received was called Kapap (the Hebrew acronym for Krav Panim El’Panim, which means “face-to-face combat”). The word “Krav” is also translated commonly as “fight.” However, Kapap was not just one system, but a mixture of rigorous physical conditioning, firearms, explosives training, radio communications, wilderness survival training, combat first aid and foreign language courses (which also included the enemy languages of German and Arabic). This style of empty hand combat training was a combination of Western fighting systems such as boxing (London Prize Ring Rules), Greco-Roman wrestling, and standard British military knife and baton training. At this time, since there was no one single vocabulary word or term used to identify these types of self-defence techniques; Kapap was used as an all inclusive term. Eventually, the Pal’ mach’s three combat brigades that were trained in Kapap went onto assist the British in a variety of victorious campaigns such as the invasions of Vichy (the French pro-Nazi government), Lebanon, and Syria; espionage missions in Jordan and fighting along side the British SAS (Special Air Service) in the Balkans.When the war ended, so did the Jewish-British cooperation. The Jews expected the Brits to hold up their end of the bargain for a homeland. When it was apparent that the deal would not go through the Pal’ mach used guerrilla tactics against the British military and police installations. Terrorist attacks were also carried out by the Jewish Stern Group and Irgun, but they were strongly condemned by the Haganah.With the newly formed United Nations in 1945 the Jews knew that it was only a matter of time before an all out war between the Jews and Arabs would break out. In an attempt to intervene, prior to their departure, the British tried to partition the region into two parts – a Jewish state on the west side of the Jordan River and an Arab state on the east side of the river (today’s Jordan).Finally, when the British lowered the Union Jack and left the region, the Jews declared their Independence on May 14, 1948. Hours later the forces of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and the Palestinians attacked the newborn nation of Israel. Eventually, the unofficial-turned-legitimate Haganah would face its greatest challenge yet in the War of Independence, and was officially renamed the Tzava Haganah Le’Yisrael (translated as the Army Defence to Israel and also the Israeli Defence Forces or IDF).
It was during the War of Independence that the Israelis managed to not only survive, though greatly outnumbered and poorly equipped, but went on to form one of the most respected Militaries in the world. In 1957, the ultra-secret unit named Sayeret Mat’kal (Unit 216) was formed by intelligence officer Avraham Aran who closely modelled it after the British SAS. In the 1970’s this unit gained worldwide fame after a series of spectacular counterterrorist operations - the most famous of which was Operation Thunderbolt on July 3-4, 1976 (also known in the U.S. as the Raid on Entebbe), where operators flew into the hostile African nation of Uganda and rescued 103 hostages who had been Hijacked by German and Palestinian terrorists.In the 1970’s, as it pertained to the IDF, the Special Forces units had a monopoly on martial arts training and, once again, Kapap became the training of choice, which was also known as Lochama Zehira (“micro fighting” or “micro combat”). The system included a variety of military skills in addition to hand-to-hand combat. However, with Israel being at war with one or more Arab neighbours, and facing unrelenting cross-border terrorist attacks, it was obvious that regular IDF units needed some sort of hand-to-hand fighting system. As a result, what they got was a basic, no-nonsense, system called Kapap or Krav Panim el Panim.