Home > Hasbara, Human Rights and Jewish Values > Facing stone-throwing, the IDF cries “popular terror” and lets slip the dogs of war

Facing stone-throwing, the IDF cries “popular terror” and lets slip the dogs of war

An Israeli army dog attacks a Palestinian woman during an army raid in the West Bank village of Obadiyah, near Bethlehem, Wednesday, March 21, 2007. The dog, which was supposed to enter a house with troops searching for a wanted militant attacked the female bystander instead. The woman received medical attention from the troops on the scene. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

A minimal sense of sense of history appears to have become an unrealistic expectation when it comes to Israeli policy makers. Some things should not be done, period. No matter how effective they are. But if Jewish leaders can propose labor camps for refugees, why not use dogs against civilians?

The newly coined term, “popular terror,” may indicate, however, that the IDF is concerned that some Israeli audiences, perhaps even some soldiers, would still be upset at the prospect. What better way to dehumanize a teenager throwing stones at soldiers blocking a protest against theft of communal land than to label him a “terrorist”?

Morality is not the only argument against the use of attack dogs in a civilian setting. This photo shows what can result even when the target is armed militants.

Writing recently in Tablet on the Kamm affair, Yossi Melman, no bleeding heart leftist, reminded the Israeli elite that “image and good name also contribute to the security and prosperity of Israel.” Indeed, for years, senior officers and officials have told us that perceptions are critical to victory in “asymmetric warfare”. When it comes to making actual operative decisions, however, other considerations consistently trump strategic insight.

With bared teeth: Oketz dogs to catch stone throwers

Amir Buhbut, Maariv, April 8 2010

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.

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