(photo credit: Let the Animals Live)
The IDF's K9 Oketz Unit will be deployed in future interceptions of Gaza-bound ships or flotillas to assist soldiers in boarding the vessels, a military source said on Thursday.
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The decision followed intensive deliberations by military chiefs on how to improve boarding techniques following the bloody confrontation on board the Marvi Marmara ship on May 31, in which Navy commandos were stabbed, beaten with poles, and beaten, and nine activists killed.
Boarding the ships has been identified by military planners as the most problematic stage in flotilla interceptions, and the Oketz unit is seen as a promising solution.
Video footage provided by the IDF of the Maravara raid shows naval commandos being assaulted by multiple attackers immediately after descending from a helicopter.
In future interceptions, specially trained dogs will be placed on the
ships first in order to ensure that naval commandos can safely board.
The incorporation of the K9 unit will require dog trainers and their animals to train together with the commandos.
The Oketz Unit operates under the command of the IDF's General Staff,
and trains dogs to take part in counter-terrorism missions, search and
rescue tasks, and other specialized activities.
"The dogs are weapons in every sense - like snipers or tank shells - but
they are biological weapons," the Yehdia website, 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 website added.
During his August testimony before the Turkel Commission, set up to
investigate the raid on the Marmara, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi hinted that snipers would be used in future raids of
ships carrying violent and armed individuals.