The commander of the Israel Defense Forces' secretive and elite Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) has posted a message asking all former members of the unit to stop sharing classified information with the press. Lt. Col. G. asked the former commandos to "return to a policy of discretion regarding the unit's confidential operations and keep the unit away from the media."
The letter came after a series of exposés about the elite unit in Israeli media. Channel 2's "Uvda" ("Fact," an investigative reporting show) aired an episode about a 1992 training accident at the Tze'elim army base in which five Sayeret Matkal soldiers died while reportedly training to assassinate then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The deadly accident has since been referred to as the "Tze'elim Disaster." Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth had a weekend edition special on former Sayeret Matkal commando Nachum Lev, who took part in the operation to kill the PLO's deputy chief in 1988 in Tunisia.
"In the past years, and even more so recently, we have witnessed increased exposure of our unit's activities in the media," Lt. Col. G. wrote in the message posted on the Walla website.
Referring to Channel 2's "Uvda," G. said, "Operational information was declassified [by the government's censor] that contravenes the unit's need for secrecy. After the program was broadcast, numerous veterans from the unit called in, feeling that the boundaries [of confidentiality] had been breached. ... The facts publicized caused direct harm to the security of the state and the personal safety of the active-duty and reserve fighters in the unit."
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit released a statement regarding the event: "In light of the recent unauthorized publications about Sayeret Matkal, commanders in active duty and the reserves have drafted a charter for reservists' for speaking to the press, prohibiting them from leaking information that may harm classified operations."