What is Yatar?
TR: Yatar Israel is a private NGO (non-governmental organization) formed in 2016 to supplement the existing government forces patrolling and protecting threatened communities and border areas in Israel. Yatar uses specially outfitted, lightweight, multi-terrain off-road vehicles so they can access areas that existing government security forces cannot. Yatar works under the command of the Israeli border guard and security forces.
One important thing to know about Yatar is that it is completely private and supplemental to the existing forces. The fundraising that Yatar does goes to fund its operations alone. No funds go to, or are received from, any Israeli governmental body.
How did Yatar start?
TR: We came up with the idea of using Lightweight Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles (LTATVs) after the terrible terror attack on Daphna Meir, who was assassinated in front of her kids. We understood that many citizens are living exposed to terrorists’ infiltrations on the borders in areas that existing Israeli forces simply can’t patrol effectively, either because of inaccessibility or a lack of adequate manpower.
Why doesn’t the government pay for the LTATVs?
TR: The Border Guard is not equipped with this kind of vehicle and does not have a budget for the vehicles nor the trained staff to man them. Yatar has innovated this concept to greatly increase the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism.
The reception from the existing forces has been incredible. The Border Guard does what it can to help Yatar by supplying extra equipment, training, and even food and transport for the volunteers.
What are some of Yatar’s accomplishments?
TR: Yatar decreased the amount of criminal activity and terrorist acts in the Jerusalem Hills area by 40% in 2017 and 60% in 2018. In the area surrounding Gaza, we have seen a decrease of terror and criminal activity approaching 70%. There is no more effective method of suppressing violence and conflict.
As for the new threat of arson from fire balloons and the like, Yatar has been incredibly effective and frequently is the very first responder.
How is the organization Yatar uniquely positioned to do what it does?
TR: What makes us special is the commitment of our volunteers and the incredible capabilities of the LTATV. There’s no other unit like us in Israel; we are creating and developing a completely new paradigm of first response. We can act faster and access areas that no one else can. We can confront criminals and terrorists in any terrain.
Aside from that, we are a fully authorized unit working under the border guard and other security forces.
We patrol every day and night. On Shabbat we work only if there’s something that is life-threatening.
What are the short-term and long-term goals of Yatar?
TR: Over the next two years we’d like to build up our fleet to 25 LTATVs and our manpower to 300 fully equipped volunteers covering the borders with Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt, and the West Bank. Long term, we’d like to cover all of Israel.
How can we keep informed about Yatar’s development, operations, and growth? If someone would like to get involved with Yatar in the U.S. or in Israel how can they do that?
TR: The best way of getting in touch with Yatar is to follow us on social media and to sign up for our newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us: US: 212-444-1709; IL: +972(0)50-308-9817.
Can supporters visit Yatar in Israel?
TR: Yes. We can provide a tour where you can see us in action. Call or email us, and come see with your own eyes the difference we’re making.
What keeps you up at night? What are your biggest concerns and fears for the safety of the areas you are protecting?
TR: The biggest threat is the lack of respect for the lives of ordinary people like you and me exhibited by our adversaries. It’s the constant threat to ordinary families that keeps us up at night. Each area and each enemy poses a different kind of threat. Our volunteers live in these areas and feel these threats personally.
Tell us about a typical Yatar volunteer.
TR: Our volunteers have a military or police background; we don’t accept civilians. They come from IDF or police special units. Many of them work for the IDF or police and volunteer with us in their free time. They have extensive experience and are truly committed.
How closely do you work with Israel security forces?
TR: We are blessed with 100% collaboration with the security forces. Basically, we make ourselves available at their command. Our goal is to help them and be led by them. This is not a vigilante or private security force. The existing Israeli Border Guard and security forces know what they are doing; they just need all the help they can get. We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide that help and grateful to our supporters for helping us do so.