April 13, 2010
Miriam Shaviv, elsewhere, blogs about Hebrew-understanding and German-understanding dogs.
This report, which appears in Maariv, is most worrying.
The IDF has come up with a new weapon against popular terror: dogs of the Oketz unit will catch shooting cells and firebomb throwers and stone-throwers. “The dogs are a non-lethal weapon,” explained a high-ranking officer in the unit.
Disturbances have increased throughout Judea and Samaria in recent months, and despite orders to make the rules of engagement stricter to prevent an escalation, IDF soldiers killed four Palestinians in two incidents. A Central Command inquiry found that their killing could have been prevented.
In wake of the incidents, the commander of the Oketz unit, Lt. Col. S., approached the commander of the Samaria Brigade, Col. Itzik Bar, and suggested the services of a new Oketz company comprised of dogs and combatants. This unit earned praise in the brigade-wide exercise of the Givati Brigade last month on the Golan Heights.
Col. Bar approved the plan and began to put it into practice on a problematic route where stones and firebombs are regularly thrown at Israeli civilians and security forces. Because of the mountainous topography and the proximity to a Palestinian village, it is difficult to catch the suspects in real time.
“We began this activity last week,” explained a senior officer. “The Oketz dog is the non-lethal weapon that will chase the suspects from the moment they are spotted, taking advantage of its greater speed. In the future, the goal is to let Oketz act to prevent shooting attacks on problematic roads and searches in the casbah.”
In the meantime, it has been learned that in the coming months, a training facility that is the first of its kind in Israel will be established for the Oketz dogs, to practice combat in a Lebanese village. In the new facility, the dogs will practice locating hidden explosives, searching buildings and attacking terrorists.
Oketz is an elite unit subordinate to the IDF General Staff. Its combatants, who have a combat profile, wear a red beret and wear red boots. The unit’s activity includes accompanying other elite units on secret missions using attack dogs, explosive and weapons-finding dogs, sniffer dogs, pursuit dogs and rescue dogs. In Operation Cast Lead, the unit chalked up 33 successful missions. Three dogs were killed by terrorist fire, but in every force that was led by Oketz combatants, no combatants were hurt—not from fire and not from explosives hidden in streets and houses.
As Hegel said: The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.