Israeli solider checks his weapon atop of a tank
The Israel defence Force is streamlining its forces in the face of a growing threat from highly mobile Islamist guerrilla fighters Reuters/Siegfried Modola

Faced with a growing Islamic State (Isis) threat from the Gaza Strip and Syria, the Israel Defence Force has set up a new elite commando brigade to tackle the growing danger from Gaza and Syria.

The IDF chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot set up the new division in order to streamline the IDF and boost efficiency. Its introduction is part of the lessons of the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, when a cumbersome IDF found itself wrong-footed by guerrilla fighters.

While the size of the Israeli military is a closely guarded secret, an infantry brigade is usually made up of about 1,000 soldiers.

Debkafile - which reports on Israeli and other Middle East intelligence issues - said it would be an "answer to the coming challenge. It is a unique, multi-purpose commando ground force, especially tailored to fight ISIS and provide the 'boots on the ground' which the US-led coalition has kept back from the Islamists' constantly expanding warfront.

"It will be trained and armed for extraordinary missions outside routine military tasks."

The new unit will be a merger of Meglan, a highly mobile anti-tank team which also operates behind enemy lines to gather intelligence; Duvedevan, which operates undercover and runs snatch-and-grab actions in hostile populations; Egoz, which is in effect a unit that specialises in guerrilla warfare; and Rimon, which like Duvedevan operates undercover within communities and is tasked with thwarting attacks.

The brigade will be headed by Colonel David Zibi, currently Central Command's Operation Branch Officer.

A military spokesman issued a statement, saying that the move would strengthen the Special Forces by "increasing co-operation and communication, turning the IDF's elite into an even more effective response team during emergency protocol".