Profiling Israel’s Elite Undercover unit Duvdevan

By Jessica Purkiss

Last week a video emerged showing an undercover Israeli security unit attacking, shooting and arresting Palestinian protestors. The agents, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, with kaffiyehs over their faces, had reportedly infiltrated a group of rock throwing youths for around 30 minutes before turning and opening fire on them. Within seconds they were backed up by a number of Israeli soldiers in full uniform.

The agents involved in the attack were part of an elite undercover unit called “Duvdevan”. IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner confirmed the participation of the unit later that day, posting the army’s own clip on Twitter.

The unit, and others similar, are known collectively as ‘Mista’arvim’ in Hebrew or “Musta’rabeen” in Arabic, which literally means “Arab pretenders”. These elite “counter-terrorism” units impersonate Palestinians and infiltrate Palestinian communities. Members undergo rigorous training on things such cultural habits and local dialect in-order to make them indistinguishable when inside a Palestinian community. Disguises donned by agents in the past have included things as ludicrous as dressing as elderly men or Palestinian women cradling pretend babies.

Although little is known about the Mista’arvim, over the years it has been thought to consist of four selective units, two of which belong to the Israeli army; the Duvdevan (Hebrew for cherry) which work in the West Bank, and the second Shamshon (Samson) in the Gaza Strip. The third unit reportedly belongs to the border police and the fourth operates strictly in the Jerusalem area belonging to the Israeli police.

– Read More: Profiling Israel’s Elite Undercover unit Duvdevan – Jessica Purkiss, Middle East Monitor


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