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Mista'arvim (Hebrew: מסתערבים, lit. Arabized; Arabic: مستعربين, Mustaʿribīn), also spelled as mistaravim, is the name given to counter-terrorism units of the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Border 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 missions and counter-terrorist operations, that uses 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 Sephardi Jews following their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
Training for these units is about fifteen months:
- Four months basic infantry training in 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 exercises 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 dying, contact lenses, Arab clothing).
- One-month courses – sniper, driving and different instructors courses.
- Shimshon (Unit 367), which operated in the Gaza Strip. It was disbanded in 1994 after the Oslo peace talks.
- Duvdevan (Unit 217), which operates in The West Bank.
- Yamas from the Israel Border Police.
- Masada – an elite unit of the Israeli Prison Service which specializes in these kinds of operations, among others.
- The Arab Department – a unit of the Palmach, whose soldiers carried out such activities.
- Sayeret Shaked – an elite unit of the IDF, which also operated undercover in the Gaza Strip in the 70's.
- Hermesh unit – a unit of undercover and varied initiated activity, which operated in Judea and Sameria until 1994. The unit was then transferred to the Kfir Brigade.
- 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