(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
What do you get when you put a Belgian Shepherd, an IDF soldier, a military
checkpoint and a vacuum cleaner together?
No, this is not the beginning of a
joke; it’s a new and innovative method for speedy IDF inspections of Palestinian
cars for explosives at checkpoints throughout the West Bank.
The idea is
the brainchild of Oketz, the IDF’s elite canine unit, which trains Belgian
Shepherd dogs to detect explosives at military checkpoints and during IDF
As a unit, Oketz is organized like a battalion with a number
of companies, each corresponding to the dog’s designation – attack, explosives-
detection, tracking and search-and-rescue.
Teams are deployed throughout
the country and participate in daily counter-terror operations in the West Bank
and along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Since 2008, the IDF has removed
27 manned checkpoints throughout the West Bank, leaving 14 that are mostly along
the periphery, between Israel and the Palestinian territory.
In line with
Israel’s efforts to ease restrictions and enable faster passage between the
checkpoints, the officers at Oketz began thinking of new ways to inspect cars
without having to open the door and have a dog pop inside.
The new idea
works simply. It involves taking a standard vacuum machine that works on
batteries, connecting it to a glass jar and sucking in air from a Palestinian
car. The Oketz dog then sniffs a row of about 10 jars, with air samples from 10
cars, and if explosives are detected, it signals to its handler, who then begins
a more extensive search of the vehicles.
“This is being done in an effort
to ease restrictions on Palestinians who travel through the checkpoints,” a
senior officer from Oketz said on Monday. “There is no question that the best
way is to stick a dog’s head in the car, but we want to make things easier,
faster and more effective.”
Another possibility under consideration is
for soldiers at checkpoints to use a cloth to swab parts of the car and collect
The dog will then smell the cloth and determine if there
are traces of explosives in the car.