Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson
IDF soldier and a K-9 Oketz fighter.

The IDF’s Oketz K-9 unit is facing immense challenges as its canine and human partners work to track down and eliminate terrorists in Gaza and the explosives they produce and plant, including in booby-trapped buildings.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists are particularly callous; in previous wars, they even booby-trapped live domestic animals, including donkeys, releasing them to trot towards IDF soldiers with ticking bombs strapped to their bellies.


During the present Iron Swords War the terrorists have even stuffed explosives into the bodies of human bodies to ambush and kill Israeli forces. Since the start of the current war on October 7, 2024, about 30 IDF Oketz K-9 (canine) fighters have died in battle against the terrorists in Gaza.

The story of the most recent canine victim should serve as a wakeup call to those who still nurture the misguided belief that Hamas terrorists have any vestige of humanity. These are soulless goons.

It Happened in Jabalya
A canine IDF Oketz fighter was killed by terrorists in northern Gaza in an incident that nearly ended with the deaths of the unit’s human fighters as well.

According to a report by Ynet, IDF paratroopers who raided Jabalya about two weeks ago sent a canine fighter from the Oketz unit in to search a building where terrorists were believed to be hiding.

Unusually, the dog did not return to the force, but no sounds of struggle were heard from inside the building, not even barking.

The human Israeli fighters decided to observe the house from a distance because they realized that something unusual and dangerous was happening around the building. The force sent in a surveillance drone to search for the canine — a large dog — who had disappeared.

The tiny drone found the canine fighter after several long, tense minutes. He was lying in an alley near the building, and it was not clear whether he was still alive.

The soldiers returned to the scene under heavy cover to collect their canine fighter from the alley, but by the time they reached the spot, he had disappeared again.

The drone was sent into an adjacent building, and found the dog again lying on the floor.

This time, the soldiers realized the terrorists had managed to kill their canine partner secretly and quietly.

The terrorists had hidden explosive charges under the dog’s body in hopes that the fighters would return to collect him, at which time the bomb could be detonated and kill them all.

The paratroopers, however, did not fall into the trap, having seen the wires exiting the canine fighter’s body. Instead, the arena was safely neutralized of its charges and the dog’s body was respectfully removed for burial in the special Oketz canine fighters’ cemetery near Modi’in.

Gaza terrorists are experts in setting up booby traps designed to kill Israeli soldiers: numerous IDF troops have reported finding Kalashnikov rifles lying around with no terrorists in the vicinity. The terrorists place a triggerless grenade beneath the weapon, however, so that moving or lifting the assault rifle immediately activates the grenade.

In addition to the 30 canine fighters who have been killed in battle since the start of the war, a double-digit number of four-legged fighters have been injured and taken out of action.

In response, the Oketz Unit in recent months purchased dozens of new dogs from abroad for various military tasks.

“We are already looking at the campaign in the north after the extensive experience gained with the dogs in Gaza,” said a senior officer from the Marom Brigade which oversees the Oketz Unit.

“The unit has become a world-class pioneer in many unique professional issues connected to the canine fighters in Gaza,” he said, including their use for sensitive tasks such as detecting explosives, terrorists and exploring dangerous spaces.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleTaking Advantage Of Our Ordeals
Next articleCelebrate Jerusalem Day
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.