Israeli dogs of war from IDF canine unit awarded honours in recognition for their work uncovering Hamas booby traps
- Group of crack Belgian shepherds belong to the specialist Oketz (k-9) unit
- Vital in finding firearms hidden in al-Shifa and Turkish hospitals in Gaza City
- Also responsible for finding the bodies of two kidnapped hostages
Four Israeli military dogs who were vital in saving soldier's lives by finding weapons and bombs hidden by Hamas are to be buried with full military honours.
The group of crack Belgian shepherds were killed by the Islamic Resistance Movement after discovering more than 50 booby trapped devices, weapons and ammunition stockpiles in the last month.
The dogs – all belong to the specialist Oketz (k-9) unit of the Israeli Defence Forces and were stationed with the Marom Special Operations Brigade.
The canines were vital in finding firearms hidden at the contested al-Shifa and Turkish hospitals in Gaza City, as well as being responsible for finding the bodies of two kidnapped hostages.
Four of these specialist hounds - named as Mido Taiga, Jack and Gendi - have now been killed in the conflict and will be buried in the cemetery of the unit at their HQ.
The Malinois dogs found cancer patient Yehudit Weiss, 64, and soldier Corporal Noa Marciano, 19, in al-Shifa last week.
Both had been murdered by Hamas thugs, despite claims from the Palestinian group that Mrs Weiss had died from a ‘panic attack’ and Corporal Marciano from injuries during an Israeli strike.
Officials said the dogs have found bombs in various areas of the Shifa hospital, strengthening the IDF's claims that Hamas used a sophisticated network of tunnels under al Shifa as a command-and-control centre, contrary to international legislation.
Last week, the IDF uncovered various shafts and tunnels in the hospital building, which were later blown up, as Hamas continued to deny that the site was a military stronghold.
However, IDF sources said weapons had been found ‘all over the hospital’ thanks to the dogs including under beds, medical equipment and cabinets.
Officials shared incredible footage of the dogs in action and revealed how one had even saved the life of a unit of soldiers after it detected a booby-trapped bomb.
The dog named Denver – who is still alive – sniffed out two large car bombs close to the Turkish hospital in Gaza and one inside a car between two buildings on the complex.
Once Denver had alerted the unit, the footage shows how a Zik drone was called up and took out the car safely without harming any of the soldiers.
The dogs are also used to check tunnels out for soldiers when access is difficult, via cameras attached to their face.
Another dog also found a lethal booby-trapped bomb that contained shrapnel and bullets, which was also safely deactivated.
Officials singled out Gendi for his bravery, after the dog had sacrificed his life to save soldiers in a unit that had entered an apartment block in Gaza city as part of a clean-up operation.
The dog was sent in and cleared the first and second floors, but was ambushed by a terrorist on the third, who shot it thinking it was a soldier.
As a result, the IDF unit was alerted to the enemy presence and able to take action against them, directing fire and killing them.
An IDF official told MailOnline: ’The dog sacrificed its life to save the soldiers who would have been ambushed, and this was only one of many such cases.’
Another official said: ’The fighters and dogs of the unit take part in all of the operational missions, they are determined to operate as much as necessary.
‘We will continue to be a significant unit for the security of our forces. The dogs who died bravely defending our country will be honoured and remembered.'
The Oketz unit was founded in 1939. Since then, more than 150 dogs have been killed in action and are buried in the cemetery at the unit’s HQ in central Israel.