Kheirallah (left) and Amira Awad, injured by IDF attack dogs, 2011. (Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash)
Despite reports Thursday that the Israeli Defense Forces suspended using attack dogs against Palestinians, yesterday the military declared they will continue to use the live animals as “non-lethal weapons.” The review was prompted after an incident last March when an army dog wrangled the arm of Ahmad Shtawi for 10-minutes, locking his jaw on the Palestinian protester, causing him to be hospitalized.
After the March 16, 2012 attack on Shtawi the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee released an account:
For long minutes, the dog would not release its hold of the bleeding arm, even as its handler arrived at the scene and tried to order it to do so. The Border Police officers then arrested Shtawi, despite the fact he was in obvious need of medical attention. Morad Shtawi, a member of the village’s popular committee, tried to reason with the commanding officer into releasing young man. He was then pepper-sprayed and arrested as well.
The military use of dogs against Palestinians is commonplace. Since April 2011, B’tselem has reported eight cases where dogs caused injuries. In one instance, during a raid in Hebron last December, a military dog bit Amira Awad and her son Kheirallah. The dog fractured two of Kheirallah’s fingers.