Ballistic Shields

Ballistic shields are portable hand-held shields that provide ballistic protection against small arms fire, fragments, improvised explosive devices and various objects that may be thrown at the operators during riots. The shields are usually made of plastic materials, which provide strength while maintaining low weight.

Unlike the case with other countries law enforcement and SWAT units, ballistic shields weren’t used in the Israel until the recent decade. Ballistic shields first entered service in the Israeli security forces in 2000, as an operational lesson from the September 1996 clashes in the Territories. The IDF lost 17 soldiers in these clashes, with one of the reasons identified for the high casualty rate was the lack of modern portable bulletproof protection. Since their issue in 2000, the shields have been in limited usage by both special and conventional units and by both IDF and law enforcement units during deployment in the Territories.

In recent years the Israeli SF usage of ballistic shields has further evolved as advanced plastic shields have been procured and used in counter terror and hostage rescue situations. In addition, the IDF Counter Terror School has begun delivering specialized training on the deployment of those shields.

The currently Israeli used ballistic shields can be divided into three categories:

  • IDF old standard issue dual-plate shields – made by Plasan Sasa, this shield weights 20 kg and is made of two plates hinged together to form a portable shelter. Unlike single plate shields, this shield can stand on its own creating long-term cover. The shield’s plates have few half circle shapes shooting holes in their sides allowing the placement of firearms’ barrels. The shield is issued with dedicated back carrying harness allowing the operator to carry the shield folded.

  • IDF new standard issue single-plate shields - known in the IDF as “Magen David”, this new shield weights 8 kg less then the IDF dual-plate shield and is more convenient to carry.

  • SWAT type single-plate shields – comprise of various models and used mostly by law enforcement SF units, these shields are intended to be deployed with the operator holding a shield in one hand while carrying a handgun in the other hand. Some of these shields also have viewing holes.

SWAT type single-plate shields

IDF Counter Terror Instructors during training at the IDF Counter Terror School. Left operator is armed with a Glock handgun and is holding a ballistic shield; right operator is armed with a M4 Commando fitted with Trijicon ACOG 4x32 and a flashlight.

YAMAM operators responding to a barricaded individual incident in the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, 1996. Left operator armed with a M4 Commando fitted with a Trijicon Reflex, a AN/PEQ-14, a forward grip and a rail system. Right operator holding a ballistic shield (photo: Niv Calderon).

YAMAM operators and their attack dog at the scene (photo: Niv Calderon).

YAMAM operators entering the British Embassy using a ballistic shield (photo: Niv Calderon).

IDF old standard issue dual-plate shields

Right - an SF sniper carrying a ballistic shield and armed with a Mauser 66SP and a Sig Sauer P228 in a thigh holster; Middle - a operator armed with a Colt Commando fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32. The operator is also carrying tripod and camera (stored in a hard case); left operator armed with CAR15 and a rare Beta-C 100 rounds magazine.

Law enforcement SF team during deployment in the Territories. The operators are armed with Colt Commando fitted with Trijicon Reflex and flashlights. The two middle operators in the middle are carrying ballistic shields.

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