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Friday, February 18, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Israel Navy's new blockade plan: 'Send dogs first, then soldiers'

TEL AVIV — The Israel Navy has been training dogs for interception and boarding missions.


Military sources said the Navy has decided to use canines to overcome resistance in interception-and-boarding missions. They said the dogs could prevent the use of gunfire as that which took place in May 2010 in the bloody interception of a Turkish-flagged ship headed for the Gaza Strip.

Nine passengers of the Mava Marmara were killed in the clash with Israel Navy commandos.

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"We have decided to revise our operations and will now send dogs first and then soldiers," a senior naval officer said.

Over the last year, the Navy has encountered numerous attempts by Western and Islamic groups to send ships to break the Israeli naval siege on the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. Virtually all of the attempts failed without bloodshed.

The sources said the navy would receive dogs from a unit that operate with the infantry. They said the dogs were ready for operations in 2010, but have not been used amid assessments that the interception operations would face significant resistance.

"We did not want news photographs of dogs biting passengers if we could avoid it," the officer said. "We now see that there are situations when the dogs will save both our lives and those of those of the other side."

The military canines from the Oketz unit have been trained to bite resistors. The dogs were trained to intensify their bite in case the target resist.

"The dogs will cause pain but won't kill," the officer said.

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