It's Israel's most famous and secretive military unit. Among its known exploits are the 1976 rescue of hostages from an Air France plane in Uganda, a mission commanded by Netanyahu's brother, Yonatan, who was killed there.
In building his team at a time of tensions over Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu appears to be relying heavily — too heavily, some say — on veterans of Sayeret Matkal. Supporters say the unit's prominent role reflects the intelligence, boldness and creativity of its soldiers.
Critics counter that skills honed in the military do not necessarily translate to the civilian arena and that key voices, particularly those of women, are being left out of critical decisions.
"It's a certain fraternity that for many years has managed to place security as the central issue in the country," said Yael Dayan, a former lawmaker and daughter of the late Moshe Dayan, the famous Israeli general and statesman. "They need a war to justify their own existence."