Shimshon (1987-1996)

In late 1987 the First Intifada - the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli regime in the Territories - broke out. Few months prior to its mass breakout, small scale riots and attacks on Israeli vehicles in the Territories began. The IDF realized there was a need to counter these attacks before they escalated and decided on the formation of two new Mistaravim type units based in part on the experience and expertise gained from the 1940's Arabic Platoon and the 1970's Rimon. Each of the two new units specialized in a different AO: Shimshon operated in the Gaza Strip and Duvdevan operated in the Judah and Samaria.

The unit name and insignia is based on the famous biblical story of the Jewish hero Samson ("Shimshon" in Hebrew), which was placed in jail by Philistines. Shimshon then pushed the prison walls, resulting in the collapsing of the structure killing both himself and his Philistines guards.

Shimshon was formed around a core of soldiers from IDF Infantry Brigades, mostly fresh graduated of the NCO course. In order to quickly bring the unit to the required operational level, senior officers from various SF units, such as S’13, were assigned to the new unit.

Unlike Duvdevan deployment today, at the time, most of Shimshon and Duvdevan deployment was covert, in which operators disguised as Arabs conducted insertions into the Territories in order to capture or kill terrorists. The unit’s deployment rate was on an almost daily basis and combined with its extremely dangerous nature, it had taken its toll on the unit’s operators, with some of them ending their service suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Though rumors of the Mistaravim units existence began circulating after their formation in the late 1980's, they were considered classified and were not exposed to publish until May 1992, when a detailed TV special aired covering Duvdevan and Shimshon.

In 1994, due to an agreement reached after the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks held in Oslo, Norway, the Israel Forces had withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, resulting in diminishing need for Shimshon as well as for YAMAS Gaza and accordingly the drastically downsizing of both units. Two years later, in 1996, Shimshon was disbanded, with some of its operators reassigned to its sister unit – Duvdevan, while others were relocated to various other units including Egoz which was formed shortly before.

In the late 1990's the IDF created five conventional dedicated Territories infantry battalions. In an effort to give these battalions a good head start and to boost up soldiers' morale, three of the new battalions were named after historic Israeli IDF SF units - Shimshon, Haruv and Ducifhat. However, other then their names these battalions are not related in any way to the original units who carried the name and are not considered as SF units.

Shimshon memorial monument for operators killed in the line of duty. The monument is located in the Negev desert (photo: GPO).

Shimshon operator wearing an IDF Camouflage Suit and armed with a CAR15 during training.

Disbanded Units Guide