Duvdevan Unit

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Active 1986–present
Branch West Bank Division, Paratroopers Brigade
Size classified
Part of Independent
Nickname Sayeret Duvdevan
Motto (Hebrew: כִּי בְתַחְבֻּלוֹת, תַּעֲשֶׂה-לְּךָ מִלְחָמָה.) "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war" (Proverbs 24:6).
Colors Red and black

Duvdevan (Hebrew: דובדבן‎; lit. cherry) is an elite special operations force within the Israel Defense Forces, directly subordinate to the West Bank Division. Duvdevan are particularly noted for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas. During these operations, Duvdevan soldiers typically wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise.[1] They are also known to be trained in human and mechanical countersurveillance.

The Duvdevan unit motto: (Hebrew: כִּי בְתַחְבֻּלוֹת, תַּעֲשֶׂה-לְּךָ מִלְחָמָה) "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war" (Proverbs 24:6).


The unit prides itself on being the spearhead of Israeli counter terror operations. In 2002 the unit was awarded as such by the prime minister for having the most significant effect on the war on terror. The Duvdevan unit is regarded as one of the world's most successful counter-terror units.[citation needed] In January 2008, the unit assassinated a major Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank.[citation needed]

In March 2012, a Duvdevan unit in civilian clothing entered Rammun, a Palestinian town in the eastern West Bank, reportedly on a night-time training exercise were mistaken for burglars by three brothers from the Shawakhah family.[2][3][4] All three brothers were shot multiple times in the confrontation that followed that also involved uniformed IDF soldiers, and Rashad Shawakhah died of his wounds several days later in hospital.[2][3] Israeli Army Radio initially reported that terrorists had attacked an IDF soldier during a military operation.[2][3][4] An IDF soldier who kicked one of the wounded handcuffed men after the shooting was reportedly dismissed shortly after the incident.[3][5][6] B'Tselem, who have stated that the undercover unit's operational method and rules of engagement violate international law, requested the army's Criminal Investigations Division to examine the incident.[2][3] The military advocate general opened an investigation in May 2012.[2]

Organization & Mission[edit]

The unit is actually recognized with only a unit identity number and Duvdevan is simply the nickname given to the unit. In the unit's 20 year history it has stood above and beyond the traditional special units of the IDF and was thus nicknamed "Duvdevan," or "cherry" in English, in reference to a fruit that sits at the top of a tree.[7] The unit is unique in several ways: it is the only IDF unit (not including police units) that has no wartime mission, just day-to-day hit and run operations. The unit, unlike other SF units, can operate in more than one place at once, and can operate independently. The unit can perform high-risk arrests, raids, targeted killing, kidnappings and a range of other urban warfare operations.[7]

The unit falls under the command of the Judea and Samaria Division of the IDF. This means the unit is under an area command, not a manpower or brigade command like most other Israeli Army units. This allows the unit to operate anywhere in the country and nowhere specific, unlike other special units that are attached to brigades, like Egoz to the Golani Brigade, Maglan to the Paratroopers Brigade, or Oketz and Lotar to the Mitkan Adam base. Only Duvdevan and Sayeret Matkal are authorized to wear their uniforms without identifying shoulder tabs. The unit is most similar to the Yamam and Yamas police units.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Macko, The IDF Duvedevan Unit, Emergency Response & Research Institute (August 11, 1997)
  2. ^ a b c d e Gideon Levy; Alex Levac (4 May 2012). "In a Palestinian village plagued by crime, a thin line runs between burglars and IDF soldiers". Haaretz. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Soldiers in civilian clothing shot at Palestinians who, thinking they were being robbed, sought to defend their property; one Palestinian killed". B'Tselem. 24 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Stories Differ After Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian". NPR. 13 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Yoav Zitun (18 April 2012). "Soldier dismissed after kicking bound Palestinian". Ynet. 
  6. ^ Gurvitz, Yossi (2023-04-18). "IDF Soldiers Enter Village, Kill Palestinian in Drill Gone Awry". +972 Magazine. Noam Sheizaf. Retrieved 2012-04-18.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ a b Craven, Nick (October 19, 2000). "Squad That Strikes from the Shadows". Daily Mail  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Lewis, Jack (28 February 2011). "Israel's Guns Against Terrorism". Assault Weapons. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 21. ISBN 1-4402-2629-6. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cohen, Aaron; Century, Douglas (2008). Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units. New York: Ecco, Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-123615-0.