Israel has one of the best equipped and trained armies in the world. It counts hundreds of thousands of men and women. According to the Daily Mail, army dogs are among the most valued soldiers. Four-legged fighters take part in the fight against Hamas, mainly during reconnaissance and patrols, they are an integral part of the Israeli army’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Each of the dogs that are part of the Okec (Sting) unit has a specific role in the fight. The Israeli army has been using Belgian Malinois for training for years. Some are trained to search for explosives, others to locate hidden threats in tunnels, others to track down and apprehend terrorists.
The army dogs went into battle against the enemy right away on October 7, just hours after Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people there and taking 239 hostages into the Gaza Strip. Among the first was Nero, who, together with his handler, joined the elite Israeli marine unit Shayetet 13.
Shepherds in action
“While searching the house, he revealed the location of two terrorists who were hiding there. They started shooting at Nero and killed him. But they exposed their position and the Israeli soldiers not only did not run in front of their guns, but eliminated them,” one of the commanders of the Okec unit described Nero’s heroic death. “Many soldiers from Shayetet 13 then came to me and told me that the dog saved their lives,” he added, adding that any dog who falls in the line of duty has the same right to a military burial as his human comrades.
Another brave four-legged soldier joined the Duvdevan (Cherry) unit with his handler, which specializes in covert operations in urban environments. While searching the vicinity of the city of Beersheba, he located a terrorist who was hiding in the bushes and was about to attack Israeli soldiers, “The dog bit him and thus allowed the soldiers to arrest the terrorist without casualties,” said the commander of the “dog” unit. “After the arrest, it turned out that the terrorist belongs to the militants operating in the tunnel system under Gaza. During the interrogation, he gave us valuable information for the course of further fights,” he added.
Safely into the tunnel
It is the tunnel system under the Gaza Strip, whose length is estimated at 480 kilometers according to the Daily Mail, that is the most important battlefield for the Israeli four-legged soldiers. Dark concrete tunnels are mostly full of booby-trapped explosive systems. Many of them are so low that an adult cannot stand there, but this is not an obstacle for Belgian shepherds.
They are guided by smell and hearing and move forward fearlessly. They carry cameras with night vision for “hunting” in the dark, other times they have to make do with poor underground lighting and regular cameras. If he encounters an enemy, in the vast majority of cases he will attack before him.
The Okec unit is fighting in Gaza alongside other Israeli soldiers. Here, according to the Daily Mail, dogs can be a man’s best friend, but a terrorist’s worst enemy.
The entrance to the Hamas tunnel in Ash-Shifah Hospital. The Israeli army released the video
Dog unit Okec
Okec (Sting) is a special unit of the Israeli army focused on training dogs.
It was founded in 1939 and originally its handlers trained dogs to neutralize kidnappers.
Belgian Malinois are most often used in Okec for their intelligence, activity, versatility and loyalty to their master. German shepherds and Rottweilers are no exception.
The dogs serve for six years and are then placed with former members of the unit as retirees.
The existence of Okec has been criticized in Israel because, according to some Jews, the use of military dogs resembles the practice used by Nazi Germany.