Meet Duvdevan: The Elite Counter-Terrorism Commando Unit

Specializing in counterterrorism and undercover operations against terrorists, Duvdevan has been fighting non-stop since Hamas’ horrific attack was launched on the morning of October 7th

"I am the commander of the Duvdevan Unit. The IDF combat units, and Duvdevan in particular, never take a moment’s rest and are fighting nonstop and in every arena."

These words were spoken by Lieutenant Colonel D, the commander of the Duvdevan Unit, just a few months ago, when he was given the honor of lighting a torch during Israel’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

Lieutenant Colonel D, whose full name or photo cannot be disclosed, had his face covered by a mask when he lit the torch. The operations of his unit are also mostly carried out in absolute secrecy.

When the war broke out on October 7th, Duvdevan fighters cleared houses in the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, came under RPG fire while on patrol, and subsequently eliminated the terrorists. They also suffered losses.

Duvdevan (“cherry” in Hebrew) is part of the 'Oz' Division, specializing in counterterrorism and undercover operations against terrorists. The term 'undercover' encompasses a whole world of Duvdevan fighters, making them unique and distinct in the army. Ehud Barak, who initiated the unit in 1988, said, "I want a unit whose people will look like Arabs, speak like Arabs, and ride bicycles in the marketplace of Nablus as if they were on Dizengoff Street.

In addition to counterterrorism, small-scale warfare, and the use of various weapons, Duvdevan course trainees also learn skills such as basic Arabic, disguise and makeup, covert movement within crowds, navigation in cities in the West Bank, and refugee camps. Some of the training takes place in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market or in Jaffa, and the unit utilizes the costume department of a well-known theater.

The Duvdevan training course is difficult and long, spanning 16 months. It includes paratrooping, navigation training, intelligence gathering, undercover operations, counter-terrorism, krav maga, and more.

Duvdevan operated during the First Intifada, arresting hundreds of wanted individuals. The unit participated in various IDF operations, including Protective Edge, Brother's Keeper, breakwater, and more.

Duvdevan enables the IDF to operate within the Arab population to combat terrorism and gather intelligence. The unit consists of five platoons, each with a distinct color. The gray platoon is the Arab infiltration unit. These soldiers blend in with the Arab population, roam the streets of West Bank cities and refugee camps, and, when the right moment comes after identifying a suspect or wanted individual, they infiltrate and apprehend them.

Infiltration is a complex, challenging profession that requires extensive training and nerves of steel. Therefore, the Duvdevan Unit is one of the cherries on top of the Israeli military's special forces, known for its distinctive capabilities and role.

Duvdevan fighters have been participating in battles in southern Israel since the surprise attack by Hamas last Saturday.

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