The IDF’s Oketz canine unit will be used to assist soldiers in boarding
Gaza-bound ships during future interceptions, a military source said on
The decision followed intensive deliberations by military
chiefs on how to improve boarding techniques following the bloody confrontation
on board the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31, in which navy commandos were stabbed
and beaten, and nine Turkish activists were killed.
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Boarding the ships
has been identified by military planners as the most problematic stage in
aid-ship interceptions, and the Oketz unit is seen as a promising
Video footage provided by the IDF of the Mavi Marmara raid
shows naval commandos being assaulted by multiple attackers immediately after
descending from a helicopter.
In future operations, specially trained
dogs will be placed on the ships first to ensure that naval commandos can safely
The incorporation of the canine unit will require dog trainers and
their animals to train together with the commandos.
Oketz operates under
the command of the IDF’s General Staff, and trains dogs to take part in
counterterrorism missions, search and rescue tasks, and other specialized
“The dogs are weapons in every sense – like snipers or tank
shells – but they are biological weapons,” Yehida, an online military magazine,
said in an article on the unit.
“They are animals that should be bonded
with and trained for the missions they will face,” the magazine
During his August testimony before the Turkel Commission, set up
to investigate the raid on the Mavi Marmara, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.
Gabi Ashkenazi hinted that snipers would be used in confrontations with ships
carrying violent and armed individuals.
“The IDF uses a range of means to
carry out its missions,” the IDF Spokesman Unit said.