Israel's special forces, which were formed in 1948 as the Special Reconnaissance Platoon, now consist of elite commando, counterterrorist, antiterrorist and recon units. They form the pre-emptive first line of defense for the Jewish state and have unit names like Batmen, Winged Snakes and Flying Tigers. The covert forces have participated in daring, clandestine operations both in Israel and in enemy territory, including the famed 1976 Raid on Entebbe: the rescue of Israeli hostages held by Palestinian guerrillas who had hijacked an Air France plane that had taken off from Tel Aviv and redirected it to Uganda.
In one of their most recent actions, undertaken in May 2010, special forces intercepted the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. During the operation, nine activists, most of them Turkish nationals, were killed. An international uproar ensued in which members of the special forces were accused of using deadly force on people who, some say, had not initiated violence. An Israeli inquiry into the incident found that the troops acted in self-defense and therefore did not break international law.
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