A report posted overnight in the Jerusalem Post says that “The IDF’s Oketz canine unit will be used to assist soldiers in boarding Gaza-bound ships during future interceptions, a military source said on Thursday. The decision followed intensive deliberations by military chiefs on how to improve boarding techniques following the bloody confrontation on board the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31″… This is posted here.
The Israeli naval interceptions are part of Israel’s formal maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip, announced on 3 January 2009, during the IDF Operation Cast Lead [27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009].
The Israeli declaration of a naval blockade appears to be aimed at stopping the various flotillas that were trying to “break the siege” — as much as at the official reasons given [interdicting possible arms shipments into Gaza or weakening the position of Hamas in the Gaza strip].
YNet reported that “The dogs will be the first to board the decks, to prevent harm to soldiers from hostile elements on board. ‘As soon as you put an attack dog in an area where soldiers are supposed to get to, it keeps the place sterile and prevents anyone from approaching’, a military source said. ‘Dogs can be placed by crane or other means. They’ll be the first, and after them, the soldiers’. Dogs from the Oketz unit are trained to immobilize an enemy by biting – the more the enemy struggles, the harder the bite. ‘Attack dogs have proved their capabilities on many occasions’, the source said. ‘They are strong and merciless, but in fact this is a non-lethal weapon that can certainly do the work (on the deck)’. The same source said dogs were involved in preparations for boarding the Turkish flotilla, but it was believed there would be no violent opposition from the people aboard the Marmara, so they were not sent onto the decks. ‘After that flotilla, we understood that this is indeed a good method and we’re improving our abilities’, he said. ‘A dog has no problem operating on a boat and can do great work’.” This is posted here.