|State of Israel|
Mista'arvim (Hebrew: מסתערבים; Arabic: مستعربين, romanized: musta'ribīn), also spelled mista'aravim, is the name given to counter-terrorism units of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Border Police, and Israel Police who operate undercover. Such units are specifically trained to assimilate among the local Arab population. They are commonly tasked with performing intelligence gathering, law enforcement, hostage rescue and counter-terrorism, and to use disguise and surprise as their main weapons.
The name is derived from the Arabic "Musta'arabi", meaning "those who live among the Arabs", which refers to the Musta'arabi Jews, Arabic-speaking Jews who lived in the Middle East since the beginning of the Arab rule in the 7th century, prior to the arrival of Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jews following their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
The Hebrew mista'arvim derives from the Arabic مستعربين mustaʿribīn, literally "those who live among the Arabs," or simply "Arabized." Israeli Musta'ribeen are special forces who pose undercover as Arabs and operate within Arab societies to accomplish their missions. Musta'ribeen dress as Arabs, know the customs and etiquette of Arab society and speak fluent Arabic, in the appropriate dialect. Musta'ribeen have participated in public demonstrations and may support the protests as if they were demonstrators.
Gary Spedding, a consultant on the Middle East, said that the activity of Musta'ribeen "allows the Israeli military and border police to identify protesters they wish to arrest and detain. They may also use the opportunity to incite stone throwing so as to justify the use of excessive force." Israeli affairs expert Antoine Shalhat claimed that the main missions of the Musta'ribeen "include gathering intelligence, arresting Palestinians, and counterterrorist operations."
Training for these units consumes about fifteen months:
- Four months basic infantry training at the Mitkan Adam army base – the IDF Special Training Center.
- Two and a half months of advanced infantry training in the same base.
- Two months of the unit's basic training, which focus on advanced urban navigation and the beginning of counter-terrorism training.
- Four months Mista'arvim course, which covers everything from learning Arab traditions, language, and way of thought, to civilian camouflage (hair dyeing, contact lenses, clothing).
- One-month courses – sniper, driving and different instructors courses.
- Sayeret Shaked, a unit of the IDF, which operated undercover in the Gaza Strip in the 1970s
- Sayeret Shimshon (Unit 367), which operated in the Gaza Strip until its disbandment in 1994 after the Oslo Accords
- Rimon, operating from 1987 until 2005 in Gaza
- Sayeret Duvdevan (Unit 217), established in the West Bank in the 1980s and still operating as of 2018
- Yamas, a unit of the Israel Border Police
- Gideonim (Unit 33), an undercover and mista'arvim unit of the Israeli Police, still operating as of 2012
- Hermesh, operating in the Judea and Samaria Area of the West Bank until 1994, when it was transferred to the Kfir Brigade
- Yoav Zitun (2012-02-05). "Border Guard to join IDF forces on Israel-Egypt border". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- "IDF Mista'Aravim". special-ops.org. 2013-10-23. Archived from the original on 2015-10-11.
- Linah Alsaafin (2018-04-10). "Musta'ribeen, Israel's agents who pose as Palestinians". aljazeera. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
- Mel Frykberg (2015-11-16). "Israeli forces kill Palestinians at Qalandiya camp". aljazeera. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
- Bethan McKernan (2017-12-14). "Israeli undercover officers seen attacking Palestinian protesters". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
- fisher79 (2012-08-15). "new kitbash Israeli Unit Gideonim (Unit 33)". onesixthwarriors.com. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
- Meyer, Lily (7 March 2019). "'Spies Of No Country' Offers Nuanced Understanding Of Israel's Complexity". National Public Radio. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
- Deflem, Mathieu. 2012. "Yehida Mishtartit Mistaravim (YAMAS) (Israel)." pp. 71–72 in Counterterrorism: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, Vol. 2, edited by Frank G. Shanty. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO
- Other activity by the Mista'arvim: "mistaravim | The Electronic Intifada"
- Who is Musta'ribeen