Border Police pay tribute after army dog killed in Nablus operation

7-year-old Django was killed in action after using himself as a shield to protect his officers from terrorist fire.

7-year-old Django fell in action in Nablus during an operation with the Yamam counterterrorism unit, May 4, 2023. (photo credit: ISRAEL BORDER POLICE SPOKESMAN)
7-year-old Django fell in action in Nablus during an operation with the Yamam counterterrorism unit, May 4, 2023.

Israel's armed forces paid tribute to a Border Police dog killed in action Thursday morning in a special operation in Nablus. IDF soldiers carried out a raid against the terrorists who murdered the late Lucy, Maya, and Rina Dee in the Jordan Valley in early April. The canine, known as "Django," was killed during an exchange of heavy crossfire.

At least three of the terrorists involved in carrying out the terror attack were killed by Israeli security forces, and they were later identified as Hassan Katan, Maad Mitzri and Ibrahim Hura. Katan and Mitzri were members of Hamas, and Hura was a key accomplice in the murders. A fourth Palestinian civilian bystander, Ziad Shuviri, was reportedly killed during the operation.

As the terrorists fired bullets in the direction of the Israeli operatives, a 7-year-old police canine named Django was killed in action when he threw himself into the line of fire.

Django prevented the lives of the involved fighters from being harmed by throwing himself "into the line of fire as a shield to selflessly save his partners," a Border Police statement said of the dog

Django was an active team member in hundreds of elite Yamam counter-terrorism operations working alongside the unit's fighters in stopping attacks and conducting arrests.

Django was not the first case of a canine fighter killed in action over the last year in Israel. In August 2022, another four-legged soldier was killed in an exchange of fire between the head of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and the elite Yamam unit, and the IDF's undercover Duvdevan Unit. The canine was buried in the military cemetery for canines later in the day.

The importance of the IDF's elite Oketz canine unit

The IDF’s Oketz unit (Hebrew for “sting”) was established in 1974 and is considered part of the army’s elite special forces, with the dogs and their handlers attached to all of the army’s combat units filling several important tasks such as detecting explosives and weapons, chasing and attacking wanted suspects, as well as taking part search and rescue missions.

Though Django and other fallen four-legged friends were not part of this specific unit, the Oketz has a significant role in many special operations by the IDF. The unit operates nationwide and is voluntary, leading to a selective process for entry.

"The connection between the dog and its trainer is very personal. Soldiers receive their dog during their training and spend a lot of time with the dog," according to the IDF. "The links between dogs and soldiers are very important during a military operation and are an integral part of the unit's characteristics."

Like those before him, Django's sacrifice for his soldiers will not be forgotten.