Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Double Identity

Daniel Hofstadter

We dress up for one day. They’re in disguise all year long. As soldiers, they are the elite members of Israel’s military. As Arabs, they blend into a hostile population. These undercover commando squads have become one of the IDF’s most brazen and daring strategic military tools for combating terror, but when a group of them posing as vegetable merchants were exposed in a daytime raid recently, these Mistaarvim — who for years have operated beneath the radar — were in the news again. A fight to the finish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

mishpacha magazineHe might be the heavily perspiring vegetable merchant standing in the corner of the marketplace and hawking his wares at the top of his lungs. He could be the well-dressed businessman emerging from a silver Mercedes in a cloud of cologne. Or maybe he’s the crazy-looking, drooling beggar filling the doorway of a house with his stench, or the long-robed cleric solemnly pacing about an open area behind the village.

In real life, he’s a member of the Mistaarvim (literally, “enmeshed”), a special operations unit attached to the IDF and Border Police whose recruits carry out undercover missions while disguised as Arabs — one of Israel’s most brazen and daring strategic military tools for combating terror coming out of the Arab population centers in Yehudah, Shomron and Gaza.

The IDF must often conduct unconventional and undercover operations to thwart Hamas recruiters who scour refugee camps and villages for people willing to blow themselves up in the name of jihad. And so the Mistaarvim elite, undercover commando squads have become one of the IDF’s most effective — if controversial — tools in fighting an ongoing war of survival.

Israeli military raids into Palestinian areas to seize wanted terrorists and agitators are fairly common and the Mistaarvim are usually the key — but the golden rule is that surprise attacks are generally carried out at night with little violence or public notice. That’s why last month’s midmorning nab of wanted Islamic Jihad terrorist Murad Beni Udah in thevillageofTamounnear Jenin caused such a ruckus. A team of Mistaarvim entered the village disguised as vegetable vendors, targeting Udah while he was lounging in his yard. Because waiting until nightfall would likely allow for his escape, breaking with general policy, uniformed soldiers moved in and were able to take him by surprise in broad daylight without firing live ammunition. The mission was a success, but once the “vendors” were exposed, locals at the scene began hurling rocks, bottles, and large pieces of metal at them. The daytime raid meant that after years of operating beneath the public radar, the Mistaarvim were in the news again. In Tamoun, for the next while at least, undercover agents will have to come up with a more original disguise.


 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

A Response to "Too Far from Home"
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Chareidi Israel is not happy to absorb immigrants”
Life after Kollel
Yonoson Rosenblum Remaining a ben Torah requires remaining a bar daas
Angel's Advocate
Eytan Kobre Because this is how’s it’s supposed to be always
Bring Back the Wonder
Yisroel Besser Look around and say, “Ribbono shel Olam, wow!”
Make Your Words Count
Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark This story delivers two sobering lessons for all of us
I Know of What I Speak
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman I would allow my mask to fall, my soul to be revealed
Meet the Tzaddik
Jacob L. Freedman “Aren’t there meds that can get him back to yeshivah?”
Two centuries later, the Chasam Sofer’s niggunim are heard again
Riki Goldstein The musical side of the Chasam Sofer dynasty
How Do You Think of These Words?
Riki Goldstein “For me, the words are the neshamah of the song”
The Song I Can't Stop Singing: Shlomo Simcha
Riki Goldstein “Which song are you connecting to this season?”
Megama Had the Magic
Riki Goldstein Remembering Moshe Yess a”h and Shalom Levine a”h
Living Beyond the Moment
Faigy Peritzman Someone steeped in Torah always lives beyond the moment
Sarah Chana Radcliffe We can only be sure that we can never be sure
Instinctive Knowledge
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Jewish babies are born knowing Hashem
The Gardener: Part II
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer “It’s a secret language called body language”