Unit 504 is a unique Intelligence organization, a branch of the IDF intelligence Corps, which is a significant and inseparable faction in ensuring the security of Israel, proving an essential component of the IDF's intelligence network.
Unit 504, launched in 1949, has its origins in the Arab department of the Palmach, and the Unit’s first commander was Lieutenant Colonel(RES) David Karon. The Unit was first designated as “Intelligence 10”, later was labeled as Unit number 154, and then following, after its unification with Unit 560, which dealt with prisoners interrogations, was given the number 504.
Unit 504 officers, labeled as Katamim (Special Role Officers in Hebrew), operates and directs agents that are transplanted, or originate in, neighboring Arab countries, as well as in the Palestinian Authority territories and Gaza. The Unit is also responsible for prisoners' interrogation, where a pool of professional prisoners' investigators are delegated for this operation. Their mission is to reveal critical intelligence through the interrogation of prisoners of war, enemy military personnel, terrorists, members of terrorist groups, infiltrators and others.
While Unit 504 can be classified as a classic and ancient school of practice in acquiring intelligence from people (Human Intelligence-Humint), the Unit continues to progress in accordance to the standards and practices of today’s Intelligence community. This, in order to provide a proper response to the continuing intelligence challenges, and the missions of the IDF and the Intelligence Corps. All this, while maintaining the unique character and special abilities of the Unit, which have developed over the years of its existence and its glorious tradition.
In November 2013 the Unit was awarded a commendation from General Aviv Kochavi, commander of the Intelligence Corps, for an operation that was defined as “a first of its kind, outstanding that symbolizes creativity, boldness and crossing the boundaries of imagination.”