IDF Using Dogs to Police Anti-fence Protests in West Bank

Officer from Oketz canine unit let his dog loose on protesters in Kfar Kadum, near Nablus.

A Palestinian demonstrator was slightly injured at a protest Friday in Kfar Kadum after being bitten on the hand by a dog belonging to an army unit.

A short time after the weekly protest began, youths from the village, west of Nablus, started throwing stones at Border Policemen. In response, an officer from the Israel Defense Forces' Oketz canine unit let his dog loose to disperse the group of protesters. They began to flee, but the dog caught one of them, Ahmed Shatawi, knocked him down and gripped his arm between his teeth for several minutes.

Kadum dog - AFP - 19.3.12

According to the protesters, and as seen in photos of the incident, the Oketz handler was unable to get the dog to loosen its grip. Another demonstrator, Murad Shatawi, tried to speak with one of the commanders, to get him to help free the man, but was stopped by soldiers who sprayed pepper gas at him.

According to Jonathan Pollak, spokesman for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the soldiers have used dogs in the past, but this was the first time a protester had been bitten.

The IDF Spokesman stated in response that "during violent and illegal disturbances in Kadum around 100 Palestinian gathered, rolled burning tires toward security forces and threw stones at them, and they [the security forces] responded with crowd-dispersal methods. One Palestinian was arrested for physically assaulting the forces at the scene. Another Palestinian who was detained was bitten by a dog that was part of the force. He was treated on the site by a military medical team and did not require evacuation to the hospital. The two [Palestinians] were taken for further questioning by the security forces."

The weekly protests in Kfar Kadum, near the community of Kedumim, have been going on for 10 months because of what villagers say has been a takeover of their lands. The most recent protest was dedicated to Rachel Corrie, an American who was killed exactly nine years ago by an IDF bulldozer while demonstrating in Rafiah.

During another demonstration on Friday, in Nabi Saleh, three protesters were hurt; an Israeli woman and a Palestinian resident were injured by a rubber-coated bullet to the head; and another resident was injured by tear-gas projectile. The soldiers used a water cannon to spray foul-smelling liquid at the protesters.