The Mista’arvim — Israel’s Notorious Death Squads or Elite Undercover Units?

Courtesy of The Sun

Who are the Mista’arvim?

Think and act like a Palestinian.

— Must speak Arabic as if it is their mother tongue:

They undergo courses to master Palestinian dialects and Arabic accents according to which Arab country they operate in, such as Yemen or Tunisia.

— Show the same mannerisms/behaviorisms:

They undergo courses that take between 4–6 months which include how to master customs and religious practices, such as fasting and praying, and the precise knowledge of Islam.

— Chosen according to how similar their physical features are to Arab countenances.

— Carry out missions in the heart of Palestinian societies or other Arab countries.

Former Israeli Education Minister Shulamit Aloni, expressed opinion on the existence of these units by saying, “I oppose in principle that 18- and 19-year-old boys will judge the verdict of the Palestinians, and also will implement their death sentence.”

Quick History:

Each village had a governor on behalf of the military.
  • The popular perception in the Israeli defense establishment was that:
Sooner or later, the Arab armies would invade Israel again.
And the Israeli-Arabs will be a “5th column”, joining the enemy in combat.
Shabak is Israel’s domestic security agency.
Believed to be at the forefront of undercover operations against Palestinian militants.
Has a large number of fluent Arabic speakers, able to pass themselves off as Palestinians and go freely about the West Bank.


— 4 months basic infantry training in the Mitkan Adam army base — the IDF Special Training Center.

— 2.5 months of advanced infantry training in the same base.

— 2 months of the unit’s basic training:

Focuses on advanced urban navigation exercises .
Beginning of counter-terrorism training.

— 4 months Mista’arvim course:

Learning Arab traditions
Way of thought
Civilian camouflage (hair dying, contact lenses, Arab clothing).

— 1 month courses include:

  • Advanced training will be applied once Mista’arvim agents are filtered into their respective units.

Known/Active Mista’arvim Units:

— Operates in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem division.

— The elite undercover counter-terrorism unit of the Israel Border Police.

— Relies on the operatives’ ability to immerse themselves fully into the targeted communities.

— Many in the Border Guard came from households where Arabic was a second language and the oriental traditions were second nature.

Because of the large number of Ethiopian immigrants in its ranks, Yamas was also able to recruit people who could openly pose as Sudanese and other North African migrants.

— The unit is responsible for:

Domestic hostage-rescue operations.
Offensive hit-and-run raids against targets in civilian areas.
Performing SWAT duties.
Undercover police work.
Assist in VIP protection.
Covert operations against organized crime.

— Yamas are self-dependent, training its own operators in all fields:

Dog operating
Bomb disposal

— Operates in the West Bank division.

— Noted for their undercover operations in urban areas — during which they often wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise.

— The unit is actually recognized with only a unit identity number and Duvdevan is simply the nickname given to the unit.

— Known to be trained in human and mechanical counter-surveillance.

— Only IDF unit (not including police units) that has no war time mission — just day-to-day hit and run operations.

— Operates independently in more than one place at a time. This means providing its own:

Medical teams

— The unit performs many high-risk and complicated operations:

Targeted killings
Urban warfare operations

— Operates in the East Jerusalem division.

— The unit is responsible for combating:

>Organized crime

— Known to be trained in both surveillance and tactical capabilities.

Recorded Brutal Assaults against Civilians:

-Shot 7 times at point blank range after Israeli soldiers broke into his home in a pre-dawn raid.
-The Mista’arvim assaulted, shot, and dragged for half an hour through the alleyways of the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

— The raid was carried out by undercover agents of the Duvdevan unit.

— 24 Mista’arvim gunman invaded al-Ahli hospital.

-They included 2 dressed as women, 1 as a pregnant woman in a wheelchair, and others wearing fake beards.

— 3 of the agents obstructed the hospital entrance and ordered medical staff not to move.

-The other Israelis went up to the surgery department on the 3rd floor and detained medical staff.

— At 2:45AM:

-5 agents, including 2 disguised as women, raided the patient’s room — 4 gunshots were heard and the agents left.
-Abdallah al-Shalalda suffered 3 bullet wounds to his head, chest and arm.
-Witnesses report that he was not armed, was some meters away from the soldiers and police, and had not attempted to attack them. There was no attempt to arrest Abdullah al-Shalalda, according to the witnesses, or to use non-lethal alternatives before shooting him dead.
-Israel claimed that Azzam al-Shalalda was in the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds he sustained when he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli settler 2 weeks prior — but the medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, said that Azzam al-Shalalda was being treated in its Mental Health Support Program for victims of political violence.

— The raid was carried out by undercover agents of the Duvdevan unit.

— Footage shows undercover Mista’arvim throwing rocks at Israeli forces, inciting Palestinian youth to do the same.

— Mista’arvim pull out guns and turn on youth protestors.

— Although 3 soldiers have already detained him, the Mista’arvim shoot a Palestinian protester at point blank range into his leg, handicapping him.

— The raid was carried out by undercover agents of the Yamas unit.